Views From The Top: London Penthouse Terraces

By Oliver Burns

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July 14, 2016|

  • P

  • erched high above the city and exquisitely framed by spectacular vistas of London’s skyline, a penthouse in the capital is the definitive status symbol. Sought after for their generous proportions, luxurious interiors and show stopping locations, the penthouse is truly the jewel in the super-prime crown. However, the most valuable and unique feature of these exclusive properties is undoubtedly it’s roof terrace, with its expansive lateral space and promise of alfresco living all year round. We explore why the sky really is the limit for the gardens which grace these high-rise addresses.
Image via House & Garden

The appeal of penthouses can be traced back to the roaring 1920s; a period of great prosperity in New York’s history. With the city’s economy and construction industry booming, its affluent residents were seeking a glamorous new alternative to the single-structure mansions which had previously formed their preferred residence. Today the word penthouse conjures up notions of luxury and exclusivity, but before the turn of the century the roof apartment was considered the least attractive part of the building and was largely the reserve of the servant classes.

Image via GHA

As New York became an increasingly vertical city, air and light became the most luxurious commodities. One of the earliest penthouses was that of Condé Montrose Nast, the founder of the leading publication house. Nast successfully challenged pre-existing perceptions of top floor living by constructing a 5,100 sq. ft. duplex on Park Avenue with a conservatory, six bedrooms, a dining room, drawing room and library all centered around a grand ballroom.

Image via Interior Zine

Nast set the tone for luxury high-rise living, a blueprint which still resonates today. Much like Nast’s lavish New York quarters, lateral space remains a valuable penthouse prerequisite, both indoors and out. With limited green space in urban cities, a private garden, especially one with uninterrupted views, comes at a premium. The high price tag of a penthouse is also reflective of their unique high-profile locations, often overlooking significant landmarks. CBRE reported that last year, out of an approximate 5,500 residential units under construction in central London, a mere 2% (just over a 100 units) are classed as penthouses. This statistic goes some way to illustrate the exclusivity associated with these luxury properties.

Image via The Corinthia

Alongside exclusivity, another concern of our Ultra-High Net Worth clients is privacy, which the penthouse offers in abundance. The elevated location of a penthouse roof terrace not only enables the owner to enjoy the splendour of London from the comfort of their home, but also offers a level of privacy not commonly found in cities. This allows the terrace to become an extension of the interior space, whilst still offering the privacy usually only afforded by being indoors. As such, we have observed a trend for outdoor spaces reflecting the design and layout of the drawing room, without compromising on luxury or comfort. Specialists in outdoor furniture such as Kettal and Dedon have led this trend, providing sumptuous yet durable finishes in timeless designs which can withstand inclement weather.

Image via Sawyer Berson

Our latest project in collaboration with Dukelease, the penthouse at Beau House, encapsulates the allure of outdoor living. The roof terrace has been thoughtfully designed to act as an extension of the interior, with the dining room opening out onto a rooftop which boasts a stunning panorama of iconic landmarks such as the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament on one side, and Christopher Wren’s elegant St. James’s church on the other. Much like this view, the design of Beau House is a marriage of London’s past and present. For example, a bespoke grill covering the underfloor heating is crafted in a herringbone design, which pays homage to Jermyn Street’s tailoring past, whilst cleverly concealing a modern luxury. This also reflects the internal herringbone timber floor in the living area, seamlessly transitioning between the indoors and outdoors.

Image via Archi Panic

The terrace also features a state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen, complete with self-lit barbecue, wine cooler, a fridge and a table to seat eight. After dinner, the residents and their guests will be able to enjoy the magnificent views from the comfort of an outdoor lounge area complete with a wall mounted TV. Cutting-edge technology has been artfully concealed, with speakers located in the planters whilst an iPad is used to activate underfloor heating, music and access requests at the mere touch of a finger.  As the sun sets on London, the lighting system cleverly responds by triggering the outdoor lighting and the scene is complete.

Image via Oliver Burns

Offering world-class views, exceptional facilities and lavish design, the penthouse truly is a trophy property to be cherished for years to come.

Composed by LE.

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