The Kensington Building

Kensington, London,UK

The Kensington Building

The Kensington Building has transformed the former Pontings department store in Kensington into a modern commercial hub while preserving its original charm. The upper floors are adorned with beautifully landscaped terraces spanning three levels by Gillespies, creating a harmonious and serene atmosphere that promotes well-being and encourages a better quality of work-life for all occupants.

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The Kensington Building, designed by architects Pilbrow and Partners, is located on the corner of Kensington High Street and Wrights Lane, right next to the High Street Kensington London Underground station. The building has been transformed from its original 1970s design into a flagship mixed-use development featuring flexible office space, ground floor retail spaces within a new arcade, and 12,329 sq ft of easily accessible outdoor terraces, which have been designed by Gillespies.

The proposals for client AshbyCapital aim to improve the public area along Kensington High Street and Wrights Lane. This will enhance the connectivity and accessibility to the Kensington High Street Underground station while also anchoring the development in its high-profile setting. The public realm improvements by Gillespies include high-quality paving, raised linear planters, and the planting of a mature Quercus palustris tree. This tree will serve as a focal point for visitors entering the arcade through the primary entrance.

The scheme's centrepiece is a series of stunning roof gardens on the third, fourth, and fifth floors. These beautiful terraces offer a peaceful retreat for the building's occupants, extending the internal floorplans to cater for outdoor meetings and gatherings. By providing access to fresh air, sunlight, and planting, the gardens create an environment that fosters well-being, creativity, and productivity.

The terraces are thoughtfully arranged to create zones for various activities, from smaller, intimate spaces for meetings to a larger paved area with wrap-around seating on the fifth floor for gatherings and entertaining. Bold, sweeping lines of clipped hedges and raised planters filled with informal grasses, soften the architecture and provide seasonal interest. The planting design unifies all three terraces, complementing the hard material palette.

A lightweight sedum roof in the southwest corner filters harmful compounds and enhances biodiversity.

"For the Kensington Building we introduced the principle of biophilia to create the best working environment quality we could. Biophilia is a shared connection we have with nature and natural processes and explains why we enjoy interactions with plants in the urban realm. For this project we created spaces throughout the building with excellent visual and physical connections with nature to help stimulate those working within the building, with the added benefits of limiting work induced stress, stimulating social interaction, enhancing creativity and improving well-being as well as greatly uplifting the local biodiversity of the area."

Stephen Richards, Partner


  • 2023 BCO (British Council for Offices) London Refurbished/Recycled Award