The client brief was to transform an existing fifth floor roof terrace in Clerkenwell into a spectacular entertaining space. Wooden decking with integral seating and lounging areas is arranged to form separate sections for cooking and lounging, as well as two bars (designed to be strong enough to accommodate enthusiastic dancing). Other new elements include an extra-large Jacuzzi together with an open-air shower.


When two best friends and flatmates asked Nick Leith-Smith Architecture + Design to revamp their Clerkenwell, London, roof terrace, they directed the firm’s principal to build them the ultimate party space. The brief evolved into a length wish list. On that list were a shower alongside the Jacuzzi; a large seating area for parties; an outdoor kitchen incorporating a fridge and bar area; terrific lighting and of course a built-in sound system.

As the client liked throwing wild parties, and friends were inclined to dance on tabletops, the integrated furniture had to be solid enough to withstand the trample of heavy feet. Planting should be predominately evergreen and jungly in feel, and low-maintenance, with an automated irrigation system.


The 100 sq ft roof terrace is a multifunctional area with many designated uses and zones. To avoid a mishmash of a design, Leith-Smith gave the terrace a cohesive, stylish signature by minimising the hardscape materials to three: wood, stone and metal.

Exotic ipe hardwood, which has the dark, rich tones of mahogany, was laid as decking on the upper level, and used to make steps that double as seating around the Jacuzzi.

The canopy base was constructed from white oiled oak; the covering curtain made from thin chains of stainless steel balls, a material with the softness of fabric but the durability to withstand exposure to the elements.

A floor of pale Portuguese limestone gives the lower level a different, cooler feeling, and the material was also used to build the kitchen units. Beneath the limestone surface, the table tops were reinforced with steel bars to support exuberant dancers. The stainless-steel frame of the wisteria clad pergola, which was fitted with an infra-red heater, keys with the slatted trellis of ipe wood, backed with white oak, on the upper level. This contrasts with the trellis of white oak, backed with ipe, on the lower level. Precision details such as these make the space especially sharp and sleek.


The project surpassed the clients expectations on all levels and we are pleased the the design has endured, the durable choice of materials has meant to the roof terrace looks the same as when it was completed. The project was also well received by the design community and continues to generated press attention. Most recently, it has become the most ‘liked’ garden space on the design platform Houzz, garnering over 120 000 likes.





  • Architect: Nick Leith-Smith Architecture + Design

Posted by Nick Leith-Smith

Nick Leith-Smith Architecture + Design was founded in 2000. The studio's portfolio includes luxury retail design and high-end residential work, working alongside internationally recognised brands, property developers and private clients. Every project, regardless of scale, is highly crafted, with strong elements of personalisation, material innovation and bold modern style.

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