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A green boating lake upon Selfridges roof ensured a much-hyped launch into the UK market for Truvia…

When was the last time you had an incredible idea, sold it into a client to find the client says “yes” but only if you create what’s never been done before at a specified venue. In short, that’s pretty much what happened when Bompas and Parr entered into discussions with The Silver Spoon Company about launching Truvia, the calorie-free sweetener into the UK market. It met with the company, proposed the creation of a green boating lake and a Voyage of Discovery, and the perfect location, which had height, a central location and prestige – the roof of Selfridges. Bompas and Parr’s task. Selling the idea to Selfridges.

Explains Harry Parr, co-founder of Bompas and Parr: “We had been briefed by Truvia to create a spectacular launch for the brand. We came up with the concept of flooding the roof at Selfridges, and I was inspired by the space, as it’s not at designed for events. The proposal went down well and so our task after selling it to Truvia was to persuade Selfridges.”

Naturally, the store was cautious – the roof was not strong enough to hold a boating lake, and never before had the roof been used for such a spectacle. Some persuasion and the promise of public liability insurance worth £20 million later and the project was given the go-ahead.


An emerald green boating lake, a crystal island with 8,000 Stevia plants, from which Truvia derives, a fleet of rowing boats and a waterfall situated six storeys above London’s busiest shopping street was soon created – Truvia had arrived in the UK but not before a crew of 20 worked for two consecutive nights to take 10 tonnes of rolled steel joists and two artics of Steeldeck kit to the roof.

A steel sub-structure had to be built to strengthen the roof, and then the lake was constructed on top. So many roadworks at street level meant that no cranes were allowed. The only option was to carry the steels and kit at night through one goods/ passenger lift and up a flight of stairs. Gallowglass and Crewsaders provided the muscle power but it was still a mighty task for the strongest of men with one artic of kit taking four hours to unload and put into position.

The boating lake, a central feature of the experience, measured 36 metres long and five metres wide and was created from Steeldeck. The lake’s walls had to be reinforced to withstand the pressure of a rowing boat should one crash into the side, and it was filled with 60,000 litres of water, which had been coloured with a biodegradable dye that would not stain clothing or the building should the structure leak.

Visitors began their Voyage of Discovery in an explorers library lift, which brought them to roof level. Upon arrival, guests then boarded a boat and rowed across the green lake with oars of choice and an umbrella to navigate the waterfall. Having crossed to dry land, visitors were then treated to a Truvia cocktail created by the Experimental Cocktail Club at the Crystal Café. Visitors that purchased a ticket to the roof-top experience then left with a Truvia Stevia plant to remember their journey.

High times

Steeldeck’s Duncan Hails project managed the job and worked closely with structural engineer Rob Delahunty of Webb Yates.

In total, the events space measured 54 metres long and eight metres wide, and was split across many levels. A painted ply finish complemented the overall look with the top of the lake sitting 1.6 metres above roof level. The lake itself was only 350mm deep because of weight concerns but it was enough for 13 rowing boats to carry discerning shoppers across the emerald lake and to awaiting cocktails.