It is human nature to desire a beautiful place to come home to, a place to rest and regenerate with a renewed sense of vitality each day. Space is also a valuable commodity, so creating lovely and inviting rooms for sitting, eating, relaxing, and entertaining is not only aesthetically pleasing, but a smart investment. In a land of concrete and steel, the homes we design are some of the most treasured spaces on the planet.
Stepping into a roof garden and out of the city is a way of exchanging one world for another. Suddenly gone are the crowds on the streets below, and with them all the accompanying cacophony of cars, buses, subways, vendors, and all the incessant drills, beeps, clangs, bangs, and swooshes of construction in a city that is forever reconstructing itself.
All of this activity seems to dissipate into the faintest of hums when I am standing in one of the terrace or roof gardens I have helped to create. City gardens feel more like little paradises to me than gardens anywhere else, perhaps because the contrast between everyday life and the quiet repose of the garden is so great. No other place in the world are gardens more elusive or more necessary for people’s well-being.
They are elusive for more than just the obvious monetary reasons, but also for the monumental effort required in order for them to exist at all. Imagine carrying thousands of pounds of soil and plants up stairs and elevators in order to grow even the smallest garden on top of a building.
Perhaps the enormous challenges faced in bringing them into being is part of what lends them such an air of special rarity and uniqueness in the world. Whenever I enter such a garden, it is always with a feeling of adventure and discovery, as though I were privy to behold a secret treasure unsuspected and unbeknownst by the throngs on the streets below.
Nestled between clouds and skyscrapers, a roof garden is truly a living jewel of wonder and beauty, a little emerald surely coveted even by the birds that fly above it and must look down in amazement to see this concrete jungle actually sprouting life from the buildings below.
The gardens that I design are somewhat paradoxical in the sense that they must at once escape the city and be inspired by it. Reminders of the city are all around us in these gardens, with skyscrapers peeking out above the trees here and there, railings and reinforcements on the structure of the roof that remind us of the ever-present and intrinsically precarious nature of life in the sky, and those planes and helicopter that fly with the birds overhead.