Keeping your cool

Properties with a shaded terrace, cooling pool or roof garden are even more inviting in summer. Gwenda Brophy finds homes offering an escape from the heat on the streets
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The Independent Online

When temperatures reach their August peak there are few more stifling environments than the city. Research by the Met Office's Richard Betts on global warming - and specifically its effect on humans in an urban landscape - confirm what most urban dwellers know first-hand: cities are indeed huge heat traps or as Betts calls them, "urban heat islands".

When temperatures reach their August peak there are few more stifling environments than the city. Research by the Met Office's Richard Betts on global warming - and specifically its effect on humans in an urban landscape - confirm what most urban dwellers know first-hand: cities are indeed huge heat traps or as Betts calls them, "urban heat islands".

"The bricks, concrete and stone of the urban milieu not only soak up heat to a greater extent, but are also slower at releasing it at night compared to say fields and woodlands," says Betts. What is more, Betts adds, is that there can also be additional "urban canyon" effects, where warmer air hangs, trapped, in particular streets.

As the UK's uber-city, London tends to experience these effects more severely than most, yet few who live there can afford the luxury of abandoning the city entirely for the hottest months. It means that properties offering the opportunity to cool off - from shady balcony to a cooling pool - come into their own in the summer months, but as might be expected, none of this comes cheap in the capital.

That is particularly so if the location is also a premium one. The price-tag for a newly renovated, two-bedroom duplex apartment in Eaton Place, SW1 says it all about location: £2.25m. But for that you do get about 2,000 sq ft of indoor space wrapped around 350 sq ft of south-facing terracing and courtyard garden that are also, like the apartment, over two floors. If the sun gets too high on the upper floor there is a shaded "outdoor room". The flat is being sold through agents Knight Frank.

Even at this price level, land prices call for imaginative ways of using outdoor space, which is always at a premium in the capital. At developer St George's Imperial Crescent - on the north bank of the river between Chelsea and Fulham - garden designer Ali Ward has located lush rooftop gardens over the properties' underground parking areas. This feat involved a massive waterproof membrane to protect the garaging below but now provides leafy oases for the 12 townhouses, which are priced at £2.5m.

Roof terraces are particularly popular, especially where they also afford good views over the capital's landmarks. DTZ Residential recently reported that a roof terrace can add as much as £50,000 to a London house price. The extra cost would be worth paying for the views from the well-terraced penthouse in Pentonville Road, on sale through Currell. The contemporary 1,600 sq ft penthouse has two large double bedrooms, a vast living space and dining room/third bedroom - and terraces of 800 sq ft with spectacular views east, south and west across London. The bespoke kitchen, wet room with inevitable Philippe Starck fittings, wiring for sound and intelligent lighting, and oak flooring throughout all help explain the £1m asking price.

A roof terrace complete with palm trees, raised pond area and water feature with views across to the City and St Paul's is a feature of actor Alan Davies's large apartment in Islington. The 50ft terrace (large enough for summer parties) is located in a quiet spot at the back of the building.

The apartment also has a 48ft swimming pool, set within a double-height space next to the sitting room, where a glass wall separates it. As a former match factory, the floors are load-bearing, which have made an upper floor pool possible. The apartment is currently on the market through Currell for £1.95m.

Swimming pools are a relative rarity in the city. For those who simply want to view water rather than immerse themselves, waterside views are certainly easier to find with the flurry of riverside redevelopment in recent years. At Riverside Quarter in Wandsworth, in south west London, many of the 400 apartments have dual aspect views up and down the river from balconies and terraces. In addition, the landscaped areas between each of the buildings feature walks among cooling gravel footpaths, natural paving and timber-decking as well as trickling water features. For those whose response to heat is simply to wilt and stay indoors, the apartments at Riverside Quarter also come with thermostatically controlled air cooling systems to all main rooms. Prices at the newly released Chappelier House start at around £395,000.

Currell in Islington, 020 7226 4200, www.currell.com

Knight Frank 020 7591 8600.

Imperial Crescent 020 7610 9693, www.imperialwharf.com

Riverside Quarter, FPD Savills on-site office, 0208 877 2000, www.riversidequarter.com

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