Under the Meadow

We gained planning permission for a large extension of this Victorian terrace house in London, Hackney.

The scheme convinced the planners as it recreated the lost garden amenity on the planted green roof. 

You are living between, and under, the roots of trees and meadow. 

Under the Meadow

2011 - 2015  |  media: building & landscape  |  location: Hackney, London  |  scale: 25m2


The design of this project demonstrates how the density of an urban site can be increased whilst increasing its biodiversity and green amenity value.

In this project for a garden extension in Hackney, London, we propose to visually raise the ground level to that of the upper ground floor. It is defined by 4 planters build of London stock bricks. Seen from the upper ground floor, a new strata has been created, aligned with the garden walls.

The largest contains the extension per se and is covered by a wild flower meadow growing in a thick layer of soil to create natural growing conditions and reduce the maintenance needs to a minimum. A large skylight in the middle of the supporting concrete slab will light this space brightly. Through this opening, the meadow above will appear, bloom and dry before being cut at the end of the summer. The yearly rhythm of the seasons will change the space and the quality of light. This slab is left visible internally and will be given a reflective surface. 

Three other planters, each contain a tree and other plants, form a varied space for a lower garden. These trees will be chosen for the aesthetic quality of their branches, foilage and flowers as seen from below, in transparency with the sunlight behind.

The design also creates a varied range of habitats with different levels of humidity. It is provided by a system of sustainable rain water treatment. Collected from the roofs of the original building, the water is directed to a rainwater tank. This overflows into one of the planters where a tree that enjoys humid conditions will be planted and water can seep slowly into the ground to replenish the water table. From this, the water overflows in a large trough shaped pond for aquatic and marginal plants and associated animals. Excess water is then channelled in a rill to form a cascade before going into the drain. The whole garden can be seen as a fountain operated by the weather that creates a diversity of habitat for various vegetal and animal life.

We gained planning and building control approvals and tendered the project.

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Project team


Structural engineer: Ben Godber


Contractor: Atom Build


Photographer: Eric Guibert 


Drawings: Eric Guibert