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Sky Garden, London

Towering a lofty 525ft tall and offering spectacular views across the capital, Sky Garden is London’s highest public garden. The amazing giant glass dome of 20 Fenchurch Street is home to three storeys of beautifully landscaped public gardens.

As one of London’s most exclusive visitor attractions, it includes an open-air terrace and observation decks. The building is a commercial skyscraper, comprising 38 storeys. Offices occupy most of the floors, but the Sky Garden, bar and restaurants at the top of the building are open for public visits.

Sky Garden

© offcaania / Adobe Stock

Unique design

With an unusual and distinctive design, getting wider towards the top, the skyscraper is a unique landmark in the City of London’s financial district.  It is known as the “Walkie Talkie” due to its shape. Celebrating the diversity of plants, the garden is said to be inspired by the gravity-defying forests found in some regions in the wild.

It offers 360-degree views across London, with the public garden space under the glass roof creating a number of micro-landscapes. The garden’s design is based on the “evolution of plants” and the space is divided into various zones, including the shade-tolerant forest, flowering plants and a transition zone.

Right at the top is a terrace of fig trees and tree ferns, providing a shady, cooler space, while beneath that is a display of ancient cycads. A colourful lower terrace is full of bright, flowering plants to delight visitors’ senses all year round.

Building’s history

The previous building at the site was 299ft tall and had 25 storeys. Dating from 1968, it was formerly occupied by Dresdner Kleinwort and was one of London’s first tall buildings. It was demolished in 2008, after planning permission for the new building was granted in 2006.

Designed by Uruguayan architect, Rafael Viñoly, the Sky Garden is London’s highest public park. Two express lifts access the gardens and the large viewing area, with 14 double-deck lifts serving the building’s main office floors.

To the south side, the building is ventilated to improve energy efficiency and reduce solar gain, whilst the west and east faces have built-in solar shading. There are two entrances – the main northern entrance and a southern entrance.

Construction

Contractors began the groundworks on the site in January 2009 and it was completed by June the same year. Building work began in January 2011. In December that year, the core of the tower began to rise. The concrete core and structural steelwork were completed by December 2012.

Fire protection was applied to the steelwork and was completed by March 2013. In April 2014, the construction of the shell and floors was complete and the first tenants began moving in the following month. The finishing touches were applied by August 2014 and the building and Sky Garden officially opened in January 2015.

The Sky Garden was the key to gaining planning approval for the building, which is located outside London’s main cluster of skyscrapers.

Booking a visit

Anyone wishing to visit the landscaped gardens, open-air terrace and observation decks will need to book in advance. Access to the Sky Garden is free, but due to limited space, the public must book through the website.

The Sky Garden not only creates a relaxing place of leisure, it also offers visitors a rare chance to see a different view of London. On the 43rd floor, the viewing gallery enables you to gaze out at Tower Bridge, The Shard, the iconic skyscraper known as The Gherkin at 30 St Mary Axe, The Leadenhall Building and the River Thames.

With a capacity for 450 guests, the Sky Garden also offers a selection of large, flexible spaces to host corporate events and exhibitions. The leafy indoor garden is an ideal place to feel inspired indoors, which is great if it’s raining outside!

If you’re planning on visiting London’s spectacular Sky Garden, H&H Van Hire’s self-drive minibus hire is an ideal way for groups to travel. Please contact us for further information and to make your booking.

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