Above: A view of the roof garden which can be reached by escalators at each end and also by spacious lifts.
When Crossrail opens in 2018 one of the places it will stop at will be Canary Wharf. This will make it the third station to be built on this enormous site, adding to Canary Wharf DLR Station (opened August 1987) and Canary Wharf Underground Station (September 1999).
Above: A second view of the roof garden. There are well laid out paths for a stroll but not many benches on which to sit and admire the vegetation.
Two years ahead of the station opening (three floors below ground), the amazing roof garden opened in early May 2015 (one floor above the ground). The giant building on which it stands has shops at street level, many of them restaurants and cafes, with some of them also already open.
Above: The external timbers, arranged in a lattice pattern are on the right of the view. The left-hand part is actually a reflection in a shiny side wall.
The enormous curved ‘roof’ is made of huge timbers, arranged in a lattice design. Some of the gaps are covered by a strong plastic film but many of the gaps have been left open so that the taller plants and trees can grow through them.
The garden itself is made up of some of the plants that were brought to London from faraway lands by intrepid explorers in merchant ships that very often unloaded in the nearby West India Docks. The design is intended to evoke a ship laden with unusual and exotic specimens from around the globe. Its early days at the moment because the trees and shrubs have only just been planted in the earth. Within a year or two it is likely that most of the earth will be covered, as the plants grow and expand, with others poking out of the top of the curved roof structure.
Above: The ‘space age’ view at street level from the north side of Canary Wharf Tower. The overhanging pointed end of the roof garden can be seen in the centre of the view. On the right is the ‘airport style’ walkway leading to the roof garden escalators.
If you intend visiting the roof garden, you will probably take a train to Canary Wharf DLR Station. Using the station escalator, descend to the walkway that passes underneath the railway track. Walk eastwards into the shopping precinct and keep walking until you pass through the doors of the lobby of Canary Wharf Tower. Walk to your left and leave the lobby by the next set of doors, cross the road and you will see the view shown in the above picture. Walk through the covered walkway seen in the view below.
Above: ‘Airport style’ covered walkway leading to the escalator that will take you up to the roof garden and the associated restaurants, cafes and shops.
It is clear that the Canary Wharf management sees the roof garden and the shops and restaurants below it as another commercial development opportunity. When complete, Canary Wharf Crossrail Station will be used by thousands of commuters seven days a week. It will also acts a ‘magnet’ for those visiting the capital in large numbers due to the enhanced train services that will run east as far as Shenfield, in Essex, and as far west as Reading. For all those people, the new stations at Canary Wharf and Oxford Street will be a single train journey away taking about 30 minutes, certainly less that one hour. Go and see it over the next two years – before you get killed in the rush!
If you are wondering why there are no people in the above pictures, the answer is simple – I arrived on site early when there was almost nobody about, apart from a few security guards. An hour or so later there were plenty of office workers enjoying a stroll through the greenery during their mid-morning break – with a cup of take-away coffee in one hand.