Bowles & Wyer

Designing 78 St James’s Street

Written by Rosa Hinton

Our design team shares their insights into their design for the extensive roof gardens at new luxury development, 78 St James’s Street…

78 St James’s Street is a Grade II* listed building in central London, which has been recently developed by BentallGreenOak to create 110,000 sq. ft of office accommodation, alongside wellness amenities and extensive outdoor areas and roof terraces. Working with architects, Squire & Partners, we undertook the design and build of a variety of these garden spaces, ranging from the 4th to the 6th floor of the new building. The roof terraces not only provide an inviting space for the office users to spend time in, but we’ve designed them with flexibility at their heart, making them easily adaptable during larger events.

We’ve recently seen an increasing value of green spaces within commercial developments – which has partly been driven by the GLA seeking an ‘Urban Green Factor’ of 0.3 or above on all new developments, essentially designating at least 30% of a building’s footprint to green spaces. Coupled with social change following the pandemic, there is clearly an increased need to incentivise staff with innovative green spaces to enjoy and spend time in.

This was a key theme of our design brief, as well as making the most of the spectacular views across London. The 6th floor features the largest roof garden of the building, and has booth seating along one side, hugged by scented greenery as well as an expansive living green wall, with a more open-plan design on the other side of the terrace. The garden is actually wrapped outside of the balustrades with green roof planting of wildflowers and ornamentals to blur the edges of the building, as well as serving as pollinators for much of the year.

Within the terrace itself, moveable planters are used to zone the area and can be easily moved to the edges when the area is transformed into an event space. We’ve also planted these containers with edibles and herbs to enhance cocktails during functions and add a little fun!

The planters consist of laser-cut light boxes with a design inspired by vermiculated stonework, reflecting the historic masonry of the building. The design features within the under-bench lighting too, making the space just as enticing in the evening hours.

The 4th floor terrace has been transformed into an informal break-out area for office staff. It has a relaxed feel, borrowing elements from the floors above, as well as featuring a long section of planters to wrap one side of the offices with greenery and planting.

John Wyer, CEO of Bowles & Wyer comments, “We had the benefit of an enlightened and far-sighted client in BentallGreenOak in this project – we developed the brief with them, and it was their commitment to our joint vision that has made this such a great project to work on. It really demonstrates the value that a well-designed landscape can add to a city centre development and the difference it can make to people’s lives.”

We completed this project in April this year and already it has quickly matured into a series of inviting and adaptable outdoor spaces for the new tenants, whilst adding biodiverse greenery and design details which pay homage to the property’s historic architecture.

June 6, 2022