A raft of new sky-piercing towers is springing up at Canary Wharf – allowing new residents to live the high life, in more ways than one
Berkeley Homes has built a reputation on being a bit special, as their managing director Harry Lewis says “we don’t do any ‘standard’ products, each development is bespoke and hand-picked. We pick our projects very carefully – it keeps us honest and it makes what we do different and full of character. We don’t have a cookie-cutter approach.”
And there is certainly nothing cookie-cutter about their latest project. It is extraordinary: a gleaming, slimline glass tower designed by Foster + Partners sitting at the crossroads of two docks, right opposite South Quay DLR and on a direct path (once they’ve built a bridge across the dock) to the Jubilee line and Crossrail station.
It wouldn’t look out of place in downtown Manhattan or Hong Kong and in an instant it has made the rest of Canary Wharf look dated and clunky – which is no mean feat.
It is brave and bold and startlingly tall, soaring to 68 storeys, making it the UK’s tallest residential scheme (ahead of the Shard, whose penthouse sits on the 64th and 65th floors). Around the base of the two diamond-shaped towers, angled to make the most of the sunlight and dual-aspect position on the dock, there will be 10,000 square feet of retail and dining space as well as a public park and gardens for the apartments – in fact 1.6 acres of the three-acre site will be given over to the gardens and space around the buildings. “It will be really something unique for this neighbourhood where most sites occupy more than 90 per cent of the site that they are on, it will give something back to the area by offering space and public gardens, which will bring life into the area, too, so there will be a really buzzy atmosphere,” explains architect and master-planner Grant Brooker a senior partner at Foster + Partners. “Tall buildings are the right answer for this area, but you have to generate life around them and set the buildings in a ‘place’ – high rise is all about getting the design right and about what you give back, there has to be a trade-off.”
And the glass towers certainly have the “wow” factor – they will be little wider than two average-sized houses once built, but the sheets of glass, with lots of angles cut in to bring even more light through the building, feel airy and transparent so that despite the height, it is incredibly elegant and unobtrusive. “I knew I wanted something really spectacular,” explains Lewis, “so we sent out the tender to six of the very best architecture firms, but the Foster + Partners’ plan was so brilliant, they had us at ‘hello’.”
It seems the Tower Hamlets planners were equally enamoured as the plans went through without any significant changes at all, bar a reduction in height by five storeys (“they were worried that planes might not see it,” says Brooker), which is virtually unheard of.
There will 888 homes at South Quay Plaza, from suites to three-beds and penthouses, but Lewis doesn’t look worried about selling them, the workforce in Canary Wharf is predicted to double by 2025 and average earnings here are the highest in the country, while property prices are expected to grow by 37 per cent over the next four years, compare to a London average of 29.4 per cent.
“This is the start of a new era for Canary Wharf,” Brooker tells me. “First came the office phase, and more recently is has been all about embracing retail and the emergence of entertainment and dining spaces. Now it is time for the residential story to develop – it’s the natural next step.”
The floor-to-ceiling windows, interiors also designed by Foster + Partners, and the inclusion of residents’ facilities such as a vast wellness centre with a pool and gym, and a club occupying the entire 56th floor with an outdoor terrace that will feature two bars, a lounge, screening room, dining rooms and meeting rooms, even a homework room for children and a crèche, all make this a building to live in, not just a trophy home.
And where Berkeley lead, the well-heeled, and other developers, follow. They are the Waitrose of the building world. So you can expect a small forest of shiny new residential towers to spring up in South Quay Plaza’s wake – in fact by 2020 there will be more than 5,000 residential homes here, that’s a whole new town. Get ready Canary Wharf, things are about to get a whole lot more lively.
South Quay Plaza launches on 14 July with suites starting from £490,000, www.southquayplaza.london
Towering in the East – new developments reaching for the skies in Docklands
10 Park Drive
The current site of Wood Wharf will become a new mixed-use district of offices, retail, parks, a hotel, school and more than 3,000 apartments, filling a currently languishing site on the east side of the Canary Wharf Estate – incredibly these residential homes are the first ever to be built on the Canary Wharf estate in its 30-year history.
Numerous big name architects will be involved from Herzog & de Meuron to Grid, Make and Stanton Williams, who are responsible for 10 Park Drive, the first tower of some 30 buildings that will be constructed here. There are 345 studio, one and two-bed apartments with a residents’ roof terrace in the 13-storey tower that will adjoin another, 42-storey tower. Residents will also have membership to a health and fitness club. The apartments launch on 9 July with prices from £395,000, www.canarywharf.com/residential.
Comprising five residential buildings, a leisure complex and park, Galliard Homes’ Harbour Central sits moments from South Quay DLR. Its flagship Art-Deco-style tower, Maine Tower, will be 42 storeys high and has been conceived as a “vertical village” with social spaces on various levels, from a library and cinema to a gym, spa and residents’ club. The interiors have been designed by Nicola Fontanella of Argent Design, bringing Miami glamour to Docklands.
The 297 studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments at Maine Tower, launched at the weekend, with prices from £350,000, www.harbourcentral.com
A little further down South Dock from South Quay Plaza, and sitting opposite the Wood Wharf site, developer Mount Anvil is constructing Dollar Bay, 111 apartments from studios to three bedrooms, with a winter garden for every apartment, a residents’-only garden, gym and lounge. The glossy, glass tower has been created by Ian Simpson Architects and will have unrivalled views over the river to Greenwich. Register an interest ahead of their launch at www.mountanvil.com
On the western side of the Canary Wharf Estate, dubbed the diamond building because of its diamond-like supporting frame (rather like the Gherkin), Newfoundland Tower will be 58 storeys tall, housing 566 apartments, when it completes in 2017. www.canarywharf.com/residential
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