Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Global Walking Tour: London
9 August 2018
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LONDON – On the rainy evening of August 9th, the fifth annual CTBUH Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee’s Global Walking Tour took place at Canary Wharf. This year’s theme was focused on “Walking on Water.” The tour was led by Dominic Bettison, Director at WilkinsonEyre.

The London CTBUH Global Walking Tour took place at Canary Wharf and was led by CTBUH Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee Member Domic Bettison, Director, WilkinsonEyre

The group of 13 met at Westferry Circus, a formal green space edged by buildings designed and completed in 1992 and 2001 by architects Skidmore, Owings & Merill and Farrells, respectively. Bettison began with an introduction to the rich history of the London Docks and in particular Canary Wharf; from its early beginnings as a port serving the sugar plantations in the 1700s, to becoming the biggest and busiest port in the world, through its decline following World War II and the financial crises in the 80s, to ultimately its regeneration as one of Britain’s most successful financial districts and home to an ever-growing collection of landmark office towers and luxury riverside apartments. The masterplan of Canary Wharf was conceived by Skidmore, Owings & Merill for the Canadian Richman Brothers and was granted approval in 1987.

The first stop on the tour was Columbus Courtyard, a quiet landscaped enclave made up of the “rear” façades of medium-rise buildings designed by SOM and Gensler. The courtyard was accessible to the public, housing an outdoor mini Golf course and a Skittles (a kind of bowling) alley; as well as public art and a large multi-jet fountain designed by Richard Chaix.

The tour group met at Westferry Circus and learned of the rich history of the London Docks (left); the first stop on the tour highlighted Columbus Courtyard (right)
The group enjoyed the publicly accessible Columbus Courtyard, which features a mini golf course and a skittles alley.
Walking through the courtyard, the group made their way to Wren Landing, where the ‘Floating Bridge’ is located. Designed by Future Systems, it was built in 1996 as a shortcut between Canary Wharf and West India Quay. The lime-green steel footbridge streaks across the dock of West India Quay, floating on cylindrical pontoons, with a low-rise profile and a tapering plan (wider at the ends than in the middle) emphasizing the perspective viewpoint of pedestrians. At night, the handrails will light up and the lime-green paintwork becomes luminous.

The group then walked to Cabot Square, one of the main central squares in Canary Wharf with a fantastic view of the three tallest and most iconic skyscrapers in the area: the HSBC Tower, the Canary Wharf Tower, and Citigroup Centre. The raised square is predominately hardscape with a large fountain centerpiece
(also designed by Richard Chaix) and public art pieces. It is heavily populated with office workers during lunch breaks and after hours, drawn also by the large TV screen showing major sporting events during the summer months.
The London Walking Tour visited the Floating Bridge of Wren Landing (left) and enjoyed the views at Cabot Square (right)
Participants enjoyed the public art featured near Cubitt Steps
Walking past the public art next to Cubitt Steps, the group then made its way to Mackenzie Walk. Walking along Mackenzie Walk, the riverside offered a fantastic view of the burgeoning development and progress of Canary Wharf’s newest skyscrapers. Currently under construction were Newfoundland, a 60-story, 220 meter tall (721.7 feet tall) residential building with an expressed diamond-shaped diagrid structure; 10 Bank Street, a new scheme that will comprise a 31-story high-rise tower at 830,000 square feet (77,109 square meters) and the Landmark Pinnacle, a 239-meter (784-foot) skyscraper set to be the tallest residential building in Europe, with more habitable floors than any other building in the UK.

Mackenzie Walk offered unparalleled views of in-progress projects in Canary Wharf
Walking along the Mackenzie Riverside took the group to the next stop, Reuters Plaza. This was a hard-landscaped area, which during the summer serves as outdoor seating space for the bars and restaurants housed in the podiums in the surrounding buildings. The Thomson Reuters building at 30 South Colonnade, with its curved façade and digital strip showing rolling stocks and shares news is perhaps the most well-known building in Canary Wharf after the Tower. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, it is 62 meters (203 feet) tall, with a total of 13 floors.

Walking through the large glass ‘winter garden’ public food amenity of the JP Morgan Tower south of Reuters Plaza, the next stop was WilkinsonEyre’s South Quay Footbridge. South Quay Footbridge, previously a twin-masted cable stay bridge spanning 180 meters and now reduced to 90 meters following the planned infilling of Canary Wharf Dock, offers a dynamic view of Canary Wharf and the South Dock on the Isle of Dogs, making it a favorite for television productions and feature films. The simple elements of the bridge – the curved lines of the oak-clad deck, and now a singular raking mast with a shifting array of cable stays – creates a visual dynamic and contrasts sharply with the uniform urban grid beyond.

The iconic Thomson Reuters building features a curved façade (left); the South Quay Footbridge has been a popular site for television and film productions alike (right)
Continuing the walk along the riverside and then turning back onto Bank Street, the next stop for the group was the well-manicured Jubilee Park. This tranquil park space is edged by high-rise buildings and is made up of an artificial landscape of lawns, walls and a snaking water feature sitting on top of the Jubilee Line tube station. The central feature is a raised serpentine water channel with rough stone walls. The water channel is raised to a level which makes it divide the space with green lawns on either side. Other areas are planted with tall grass species and over 200 Metasequoia trees were planted in irrigated containers.

The artificial landscape of Jubilee Park sits atop the Jubilee Line tube station

Walking through Jubilee Park, the group moved to the next stop, Montgomery Square, a large hardscape space with isolated tree planting and public art, surrounded by high-rise buildings and their office lobby entrances such as 10 Upper Bank Street, a 32-story, 151-meter (495-foot) tall office building designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, along with a newly installed pop-up bar, 640 East, constructed from two shipping containers. The name 640 East is a combination of the square footage of the bar and the location, with the bar making good use of the open outdoor area.

En route to the next stop, Canada Square Park, participants could see Barclays Tower, the headquarters of Barclays Bank, a 156 meter (512 feet) tall skyscraper with 32 floors. The building, designed by HOK, is the sixth tallest building in the Docklands. The building was planned to be 50 stories in height, but was scaled down to its current size after the September 11th terrorist attacks.

The next stop on the tour was Canada Square Park, a large green open-space area surrounded by high-rise buildings including Norman Foster’s HSBC HQ. The space hosts outdoor bars and multiple events throughout the course of a year. Currently holding a “Summer Screens at Canary Wharf,” a free open-air cinema, the park is also used for live music acts, and becomes a large outdoor ice-rink during the Christmas and New Year period. Leading the way through the park are a series of ten illuminated "Lightbenches," designed by LBO Lichtbank, presenting a colorful glow to those walking by.

Montgomery Park features (left); illuminated Lightbenches mark the path through Canada Square Park (right)
Canada Square Park hosts a range of activities throughout the year, including a summer movie series
Canada Square Park also serves as the center of the three tallest and most iconic skyscrapers in Canary Wharf; the Citigroup Centre, the HSBC tower, and the Canary Wharf Tower.

The Citigroup Tower, a César Pelli-designed building complex across two merged buildings, houses the bulk of Citi's UK employee base. Citigroup Centre 2, stands at 200 meters (656 feet) and, alongside HSBC Tower (with which it was built in tandem), is the joint 4th-tallest building in the United Kingdom (after The Shard, One Canada Square and Heron Tower). Citigroup Centre 1, is the smaller of the two buildings in the complex, designed by Foster + Partners, and standing at 105 meters (344 feet) tall.

The HSBC Tower, also designed by Foster + Partners, is the global headquarters of the HSBC Group, standing at 200 meters high, (656 feet), with 42 floors housing around 8,000 HSBC staff members. Participants were interested to see that the tower had a pair of bronze lions guarding the main entrance. These are copies of a pair nicknamed "Stephen" and "Stitt" which have stood outside the Bank's Headquarters in Hong Kong since 1935.

The iconic London landmark Canary Wharf Tower used to be the tallest building in the UK until late 2010, when it was surpassed by The Shard. Designed by C
ésar Pelli and using stainless steel cladding, it was the tallest building in Europe upon completion in 1991. The tower stands at 236 meters (774 feet) above ground level containing 50 stories and a working population of 9,975 people. One of the predominant features is the pyramid roof, which contains a flashing aircraft warning light - a rare feature for buildings in the UK - and facilities for water supply and window washing. The pyramid itself is 40 meters high and 30 square meters at the base.

The penultimate stop on the tour was Adams Place, a hard-landscaped public space connecting the new Crossrail station with Lower Bridge Street. This new area was designed by Adamson Associates and landscaped by Szerelmey.

A covered, elevated walkway traverses Adam’s Place providing pedestrian access to the station shopping mall entrance. The walkway is supported on three giant Y-shaped structures that dominate the planning at ground level. The base of each support is incorporated into three substantial water features or ‘mirror pools,’ custom designed by Szerelmey, along with five large, custom-made planters clad in terra-cotta/faience bricks. Each planter had a number of light-emitting bricks with tiny fiber optic strands embedded that transmit a flood of light when illuminated from behind.

Adams Place provides an entrance to a shopping mall (left) and features three custom-designed mirror pools (right)
The final stop on the tour was Crossrail Place designed by Foster + Partners, a mixed-use scheme encompassing the over-ground elements of a new station for the Crossrail project at Canary Wharf. Located in the north dock, the design is characterised by a landscaped, sheltered public park on the roof, accessible from ground level by connecting bridges. The movement and access throughout the building were designed to be intuitive; escalators, lifts and staircases are open to the same areas providing a legible and inclusive experience to all visitors.

The area is a large space designed to encourage people to use the new park and shops at the weekend - as well as during the week – with the intention to create a lively new community facility. Participants walked through four levels of shops, cafes and amenities built within the station, with the arcade making use of natural light to minimize energy consumption and welcome people into the building. Public areas were naturally ventilated, making use of passive cooling measures, and the development features rainwater harvesting and grey-water recycling, adding to its sustainable credentials.

The park and the rest of the building is enclosed by a distinctive roof, which wraps around the building like a protective shell. This 300-meter-long timber lattice roof opens in the center to draw in light and rain for natural irrigation. The design of the lattice itself is a fusion of architecture and engineering. Remarkably, despite the smooth curve of the enclosure, there are only four curved timber beams in the whole structure. Between the beams there are ETFE plastic cushions, which are filled with air and lighter than glass. The air cushions, which are a highly insulating material, create a comfortable environment for people to enjoy the gardens all year round, as well as providing a favorable microclimate for some of the plants, which include some of the species that first entered Britain through the historic docks.

Walking through the futuristic Adams Plaza Bridge, the tour concluded with drinks among the city workers back at Canada Square Park.

The Crossrail Place Roof Garden's 300-meter long roof draws in rain for natural irrigation
Attendees walked through the Adams Plaza Bridge (left) to finish with evening drinks at Canada Square Park (right)
Toni Walter DP9
Aurelija Kauneckaitė Intercultural Communications Specialist
Lavinia Lane Max Fordham
Callum Gray Stride Treglown
Adam Wadsley Stride Treglown
Luke O'Donovan Student
Dominic Bettison WilkinsonEyre
Stuart Dow WilkinsonEyre
Jude Gillespie WilkinsonEyre
Frederice Koch WilkinsonEyre
Sheryl Lam WilkinsonEyre
David Perez WilkinsonEyre
Saira Soarez WilkinsonEyre