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Peveril Gardens
A rooftop oasis in Bermondsey

The modernist structure was originally built in 1964 as a podium terrace and collection of garages for residents of Peveril House. From 2019-21, Southwark Council and curator Aldo Rinaldi, architects Sanchez Benton and artist Gabriel Kuri transformed the neglected building into a bright tangerine rooftop garden and new cultural hub for South London.

In their rethinking of the site, the creative team referenced the Bricklayers Arms’s famous history as a 19-century stopping point for pilgrims on the way to London and turned the walled garden into an “oasis on the edge of the roundabout”. Three large openings were created in the existing concrete deck; one for the stairs to the public garden, one for a large central skylight and a third as an opening for a tree to climb through, connecting the two levels.

The ground floor is home to Forma and houses our office, artists studios, a residency space, an event space and our cafe bookshop Presse Books.


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Peveril Gardens

Events

Peveril Gardens open day
with Artist and gardener, Richard Court
13 April, 10:30 - 13:30

Local gardener and artist Richard Court will lead introductions to Peveril Gardens every hour, sharing knowledge about how to identify plants and the work that goes into maintaining this rooftop oasis.

Free entry, no RSVP necessary.

Visit us

FormaHQ
140 Great Dover Street
SE1 4GW London

Opening times
Peveril Gardens & Presse Books
Tuesdays – Fridays 10:30 - 17:00

The garden is semi-public. Residents of Peveril House have access 24/7 via the dedicated walkway.

Access information
Peveril Gardens is located on the rooftop of the building. A lift is available to arrange in advance by emailing info@forma.org.uk or speaking to a team member.

Get involved
If you would like to get involved in the garden volunteering group, email Caroline at info@forma.org.uk

About

The conversion of Peveril Gardens and Artists Studios was commissioned by Southwark Council and Rumi Bose alongside curator Aldo Rinaldi. The refurbished building was designed by Sanchez Benton architects together with the celebrated Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri. It is now the home of FormaHQ.

Peveril Gardens
A rooftop oasis in Bermondsey

The modernist structure was originally built in 1964 as a podium terrace and collection of garages for residents of Peveril House. From 2019-21, Southwark Council and curator Aldo Rinaldi, architects Sanchez Benton and artist Gabriel Kuri transformed the neglected building into a bright tangerine rooftop garden and new cultural hub for South London.

In their rethinking of the site, the creative team referenced the Bricklayers Arms’s famous history as a 19-century stopping point for pilgrims on the way to London and turned the walled garden into an “oasis on the edge of the roundabout”. Three large openings were created in the existing concrete deck; one for the stairs to the public garden, one for a large central skylight and a third as an opening for a tree to climb through, connecting the two levels.

The ground floor is home to Forma and houses our office, artists studios, a residency space, an event space and our cafe bookshop Presse Books.

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Peveril Gardens
The garden was designed by celebrated horticulturalist Nigel Dunnett with furniture by Gabriel Kuri. Dunnett's naturalistic approach was for it to be tolerant of hot dry conditions, with plants growing in a green roof substrate (rather than compost), many with bold foliage that as the garden matures creates a dramatic character. There’s a gentle landform in the garden too that uses layers of insulation panels beneath to create the topography, with red bricks to form pathways and red gravel in between. Over time you will see the plants self-seed in the gaps, these so called ‘step plants’ are fine to walk over and will flourish in quieter areas of the garden.

Since its inception, the garden has been primarily maintained by local artist and gardener Richard Court and the volunteers group he set up with Flatness during their residency at FormaHQ. If you would like to get involved in the garden volunteering group, email Caroline Heron at info@forma.org.uk.

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Nigel Dunnett writes:
The tree in the garden is Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’. This was chosen because of its bright yellow spring colour as a contrast to the tangerine colour of the walls, the delicate tracery of the foliage, and the light dappled shade that it creates.

The tree is planted at ground level, with the trunk rising through a hole cut in the roof, and the canopy spreading out into the garden.

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Visit the garden
Peveril Gardens is semi-public meaning it is open to the general public alongside Presse Books cafe operating hours which are Tuesdays – Fridays 8am – 2pm and Saturdays 9am – 3pm. Residents of Peveril House then have access 24/7 via the dedicated walkway.

Construction documentation by Nigel Dunnett showing Aldo Rinaldi and members of the gardening team:

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Oasis Fellowship 22/23

Flatness were Oasis residents at FormaHQ and Peveril Gardens during Autumn and Winter 2022/23. Flatness – comprising founder, Shama Khanna, in collaboration with Beth Bramich and a network of contributors – is a long-running platform for moving image and network culture led by, and primarily for, Queer and Trans People of Colour.

Flatness organised a number of events focusing on community, sustainability and regeneration welcoming all kinds of life into the garden. From a swap shop and screening event, to a Winter wellness workshop, migrant storytelling session and sign-making workshop for kids, to setting up a group of volunteer gardeners and much more, Flatness brought in a fantastic group of local collaborators: Ali Yellop, the Babylon Project, Design Print Bind, Hannah le Feuvre, Jack Jeans, Richard Court, Tomás Fernandez Vértiz, Ulijona Odišarija, Southwark Notes and Steve & Samantha. They also created new signage and introduced homes for bees and other invertebrates made by Jack Jeans which visitors can observe around the garden.

Listen to a conversation between local gardener Richard Court and Flatness founder Shama Khanna here.

Read more about the programme curated by Flatness here or scroll through the gallery of event images below:

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Plant List

Learn more about the garden through this evolving Peveril Gardens plant list below as compiled by Shama Khanna and Richard Court.

Acanthus hungaricus
Achillea millefolium 'Red Velvet' (Yarrow)
Agapanthus 'White Heaven'
Agapanthus albus
Alchemilla erythropoda (Ladies Mantle)
Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis'
Astelia ‘Silver Spear’
Bergenia 'Bressingham Ruby'
Cynara cardunculus (Cardoon)
Dasylirion acrotrichum
Dianthus carthusianorum
Echinops 'Taplow blue'
Epimedium versicolur 'sulphureum
Eryngium 'Big Blue'
Euphorbia mellifera (Honey Spurge)
Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii
Fatsia polycarpa ‘Green Fingers’
Ficus carica (Fig)
Foeniculum vulgare ‘Giant Bronze’ (Fennel)
Galtonia candicans
Geranium × cantabrigiense
Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’ (Large tree planted at ground level)
Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue oat grass)
Kirengeshoma palmata
Kniphofia caulescens
Kniphofia 'red popsicle' (Hot Poker)
Liatris spicata
Melianthus major
Miscanthus 'Flamingo'
Miscanthus giganteus
Miscanthus 'Kleine Silberspinne'
Nandina domestica
Parthenocissus henryana
Phlomis russeliana
Phlox
Salvia carradonna
Salvia glutinosa
Sedum acre
Sedum hispanicum
Sedum Kamtschaticum
Sedum rupestre
Sedum telephium ‘Bertram Anderson’
Stachys byzantina 'Big Ears' (Lambs Ear)
Thymus 'Jekka' (Thyme)
Thymus praecox (Thyme)
Verbena bonariensis

The list is also featured in print in Forma's latest zine STRIKE, with 58 artist contributions raising funds for the charity Young Roots. Read more about STRIKE in our online shop.

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Awards

The building has received numerous architectural awards and prizes.

— Stephen Lawrence Prize 2022 Special Commendation (Stephen Lawrence Prize)
— RIBA London Award 2022 and RIBA London Project Architect of the Year 2022 (RIBA London Awards 2022)
— Landscape and Public Realm prize (AJ Architecture Awards2021)
— Editor’s Choice (AJ Architecture Awards 2021)
— Regional Finalist (Civic Trust Award 2022, winners to be announced)

Selected Press

— Future Winners: How Sanchez Benton aims for big value and building well (Riba Journal, 13 March 2023)
— Sanchez Benton Architects (Architectural Review online and print, 24 November 2023)
— Peveril Gardens and Studios in London (E-architect, 22 July 2022)
— RIBA unveils Stephen Lawrence Prize 2022 shortlist (Architects' Journal, 21 July 2022)
— Shortlist unveiled for the Stephen Lawrence Prize 2022 (Architecture Today, 21 July 2022)
— Six firms vie for Stephen Lawrence Prize (Building Design, 21 July 2022)
— Seven small projects shortlisted for 2022 RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize (Archinect, 21 July 2022)
— The best buildings of 2021 (ICON, 14 Dec 21)
— Architectural gardens around the world to soothe the soul (Wallpaper magazine, 22 October 2021)
— Just beyond the traffic roaring over the Bricklayers Arms flyover there’s a quiet art revolution taking place (The Elephant Magazine, Autumn 2022)
— Modernist south London garages transformed into arts hub (ICON, 28 July 2021)
— Sanchez Benton’s transformation of a 1960s parking structure is subtly sensitive to history and the local community (Architecture Today)
— RetroFirst Stories: Sanchez Benton on transforming a 1960s parking structure (Architect’s Journal, 7 May 2021)

Image credit:
FormaHQ and Peveril Garden images by Brotherton-Lock and Annika Thiems

Construction images by Nigel Dunnett

Flatness event images by Forma and Flatness

Events

Peveril Gardens open day
with Artist and gardener, Richard Court
13 April, 10:30 - 13:30

Local gardener and artist Richard Court will lead introductions to Peveril Gardens every hour, sharing knowledge about how to identify plants and the work that goes into maintaining this rooftop oasis.

Free entry, no RSVP necessary.

Visit us

FormaHQ
140 Great Dover Street
SE1 4GW London

Opening times
Peveril Gardens & Presse Books
Tuesdays – Fridays 10:30 - 17:00

The garden is semi-public. Residents of Peveril House have access 24/7 via the dedicated walkway.

Access information
Peveril Gardens is located on the rooftop of the building. A lift is available to arrange in advance by emailing info@forma.org.uk or speaking to a team member.

Get involved
If you would like to get involved in the garden volunteering group, email Caroline at info@forma.org.uk

About

The conversion of Peveril Gardens and Artists Studios was commissioned by Southwark Council and Rumi Bose alongside curator Aldo Rinaldi. The refurbished building was designed by Sanchez Benton architects together with the celebrated Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri. It is now the home of FormaHQ.