New London Architecture

New London Awards 2021 Winner - Roots in the Sky

Winner in the UNBUILT category

Sponsored by Hayes Davidson

Roots in The Sky is the radical reimagining of Blackfriars Crown Court. It will deliver 385k sq ft of work, wellness and community space, a 1.1 acre urban forest on the roof holding 100 trees, 10k plants, 1.3k tons of soil along with a rooftop pool heated by waste energy. It will be a place people are excited to leave home to go to work. This is a building that a global tech company would build for itself, not a developer speculatively. It achieved unanimous LBS planning committee approval with local residents speaking in favour of its development. It celebrates all that makes London great!

New and old are brought together with the 1960’s structure and facade supporting a new hybrid low-carbon CLT and steel structure. This pioneering construction will support 1.5m soil depths allowing tree species to grow naturally over their lifetime rather than suffer stunted lives in pots. A workplace that actively engages with its local surroundings, RITS helps shape a neighbourhood that is enjoyable, liveable and economically productive. It’s a commercial building that will be a ‘good citizen’, offering a genuine place for community and nature along with a public street through the centre, opening a previously impermeable city block. With one of the largest urban roof gardens in Europe, the building will make a significant contribution to London’s ambitious targets for greening and biodiversity. This adventurous but financially robust scheme will be a vehicle for change for its occupiers and stand as an example for future workspace. With 45k sq ft floorplates and floor to ceilings of up to 6m, it will offer true occupier flexibility fit for an evolving world; a post-COVID building designed pre-COVID.

Best in class environmental and wellbeing accreditations: BREEAM Outstanding; WELL Platinum; Wiredscore Platinum and Net Carbon Zero. Genuine, honest and lasting social impact including: 10% affordable workspace; creation of 2,500 jobs and training for local unemployed residents; 5 retail enterprise spaces within the atrium provided at zero rent for young entrepreneurs; notwithstanding the dedicated community garden & barn set up as a not for profit in perpetuity creating huge social value for many years. In addition to London’s first rooftop Urban Forest providing 21% canopy cover.

International Jury Quote

It is very 'London' 
Andreas Ruby
It's like a cornucopia 
Eleanor Sharpe

Supported by


Team Credits

Studio RHE / Sheppard Robson


Structural Engineer

M&E / Sustainability Engineer
Atelier Ten

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