Canary Wharf has been a centre of upheaval for the last 30 years, and it has no intention of standing still now. It’s already renowned as one of London’s biggest financial hubs but it has also established itself as a shopping, dining and entertainment destination. By the end of the year, it will add “residential area” to its growing brand as its first homes go on sale.
Last week, another milestone was reached with the partial completion of Crossrail Place. As the name suggests, it’s set to be the impressive new hub for the high-speed train currently tunnelling its way from the east to the west of London and its suburbs. Designed by architects Foster & Partners (which worked on the HSBC tower, the ME Hotel in the Strand and the Gherkin in the City), the station is decorated with a lattice-patterned timber roof inspired by the North Dock’s maritime past.
Rising three storeys above the ground and descending four storeys below the ground, the building measures 310m from one end of its curved roof to the other and, turned on its side, it would be as tall as The Shard.
“Like Crossrail, one of the aims of the new roof garden is to connect London from east to west,” says Lord Foster of Foster & Partners. “It provides a welcoming public space between the residential neighbourhood of Poplar and the business district of Canary Wharf.”
May Day saw the station open its exotic roof garden to celebrate its phased completion, although trains won’t begin running through the station until 2018. Designed by landscape architects Gillespies, the garden is free and accessible to the public, with each quadrant representing a different hemisphere, another nod to the merchant ships that once travelled across the globe to trade in West India Dock.
“The design of the garden responds to the architectural language of the roof; we’ve created a unique and sheltered planting environment,” says Stephen Richards at Gillespies. “It will offer visitors a totally new vantage point from which to look out across the water and the surrounding area.”
Workers and visitors to Canary Wharf can expect a third branch of US-style crabshack The Big Easy to open this summer, as well as an Everyman cinema, Bespoke Cycling and a range of independent shops and small franchises. But we’ll have to wait three more years to see the final part of Canary Wharf’s identity to fall into place.
For more information, visit canarywharf.com.