Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion as work starts on Europe’s highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Costing over £200 million, the Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street has been designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly and features an opinion-dividing top-heavy form.

Set to open in just under a year’s time, the 580 ft high landmark at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London will also feature a large viewing deck and ‘sky gardens’.

Open to the public, these will be Europe’s highest roof garden and London’s highest public park.

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion as work starts on Europe's highest roof garden

The gardens will be created by the landscapers behind the award winning Olympic Park and will feature over 2000 sub-tropical plants, mainly made up of drought resistant Mediterranean and South African flowers, shrubs and ferns.

Stephen Richards, a partner at London based garden designers Gillespies told the Standard:

The gardens will be totally unique in London, the largest and most exciting of their kind. It will like being in an eyrie.

There will be a series of platforms where there will be seating so you will be able to immerse yourself in plants and colour while still being aware that you are very high up to get that sense of a floating garden.

When completed, the roof garden will cover almost a fifth of an acre, with soil up to a metre deep.

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Rosemary, thyme and other herbs will be grown in the garden for the three hoity-toity restaurants due to open at the top of the block.

There will be a “sky garden” champagne bar on the 35th floor, with the Darwin Brasserie above and the wallet- crushing exclusive Fenchurch Seafood Bar and Grill on the 37th level.

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Described as an ‘oppressive and overwhelming form” and a “brutally dominant expression of commercial floor space‘ by English Heritage, the structural steelwork was topped out on 12 December 2012, and the tower should be open for business next year.

Here’s some photos of how the building looked from various viewpoints around central London in the first half of July 2013.

I’m not sure what I think of it: I hated the early computer renderings, but close up it does present an unusual and striking addition to the London skyline.

Either way, it’s definitely better than what was there before.

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

Walkie Talkie tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London nears completion, and set to feature Europe's highest roof garden

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[Wikipedia entry]
[The Walkie-Talkie: battle of the bulge on Fenchurch Street – Guardian]
[First view of Europe’s highest roof garden – an oasis on top of the Walkie Talkie tower – Standard]