Striking homes in new White City mini-neighborhoods in Canary Wharf
Traditionally, Londoners have looked west for fun and fashion, and it took a generation to banish the idea that Docklands is the back of the afterlife. The old eastern border now rivals ‘central’ London in many ways, attracting not only shoppers and pleasure seekers, but also movers and shakers from other parts of the capital.
A sign of the region’s cachet is a new wave of glamorous accommodations. Unlike the Isle of Dogs’ initial craze of gated apartment buildings offering crashpads for bankers and corporate lawyers and square apartments for the army of office workers and computers, the new projects are more suited to families and bring a sense of neighborhood and community through thoughtful architecture, parks and public spaces, amenities and even schools.
This includes skyscrapers for living rather than working. And nothing is better than One Park Drive, a cylindrical skyscraper designed by famous architects Herzog & de Meuron, of Tate Modern fame.
In stark contrast to the oblong office buildings that surround it, the tower of 483 apartments is an architectural tour de force. Part of a new mini-district on the Canary Wharf estate, the building has been designed from the inside out.
Clad in ivory-colored terracotta corrugated panels, the 58-story quay tower features a series of interlocking bays.
Rather than square apartments stacked on top of each other, the tower facade features three distinct design elements, or residential areas. And while the exterior is rounded, the interiors mostly have regular straight lines. âCircular buildings are difficult when it comes to floor plans because you need specific furniture or you end up with a lot of dead space,â says manager Brian De’ath, director of developer Canary Wharf Group. âThis building was designed from the inside out. It has a superb external impact but works well internally and looks good too.
On the lower level are free-flowing ‘loft’ apartments with sliding walls and pivoting screens, high ceilings and seamless resin floors. Deep enveloping terraces are set back, sheltered from the wind but in close connection with the water and the green space.
Above these houses are 22 floors of small apartments, while the top 25 floors have larger apartments with exposed concrete walls, custom wood panels, pivot doors, natural stone finishes and double height terraces.
On the ground, first and second floors is an impressive entrance hall, as well as a glass-walled health club with gym and swimming pool, as well as a library and cinema. for residents. Prices start at Â£ 840,000 for a two-bedroom loft. Call 020 7418 2000.
One Park Drive is part of the new Wood Wharf neighborhood, which will eventually bring over 2,000 new homes to what was previously a commercial-only area.
Although synonymous with Docklands, Canary Wharf is a private 128-acre estate – an island within an island that is Isle of Dogs – with its own âsteel ringâ security cordon.
For many, it remains an alternative London, which has more in common with downtown Chicago or Singapore than with Kensington or St John’s Wood.
With an expanding workforce, it has become a bustling neighborhood. Over 800,000 people per week are drawn to its five shopping centers, 300 boutiques, bars and restaurants, gyms and concert halls.
Transport connectivity was once a weak spot, but the Crossrail trains, taking 13 minutes to Bond Street, will make Canary Wharf feel less detached from central London.
The developers trumpet this improved connectivity, claiming that property values ââwill eventually reach parity with the city and waterfront neighborhoods such as Bankside and Battersea, typically around 30% more expensive. If you love tall skies, expansive bodies of water, and spectacular modern architecture, this price difference makes Canary Wharf doubly appealing.
WHITE CITY LIFE, W12
Inspirational architecture shines at the new Main Address in Zone 2 opposite the BBC Television Center
Born-again White City is the site of another ongoing project, with an investment of Â£ 8 billion bringing up to 6,000 new homes. An Imperial College campus of academic excellence rivaling Harvard, a media village for creative businesses, an expanded Westfield shopping district and John Lewis department store, as well as green public space and improved transport links, are also part of the mix.
White City Living, opposite the redeveloped BBC Television Center, is arguably the most ambitious project, a complex engineering challenge that has created a desirable new address amid a landlocked area surrounded by rail tracks, off the roaring A40 and the West Cross Route.
A key feature is a five-acre L-shaped park along with new bridges and walkways over and across a rail viaduct. A line of 28 abandoned arches will become glass shops, bars and restaurants. Over 350 trees have been planted. Architects Patel Taylor came up with a concept of âLiving in the Parkâ, first designing the landscaping, then the buildings. A central public green runs through the project, while there are also private oriental water gardens, sanctuary spaces, and sculptural fountains inspired by Counter’s Creek, a ‘lost’ river that ran through the area.
A huge underground car park frees up space for landscaped areas. A priority expressed by residents was to improve connections to Westfield and the station. A âgreenâ pedestrian platform was therefore built above the open-air lanes of the central line.
The towers rise to 32 floors. Prices start from Â£ 845,000 and there is a Home Club with spa, gym and business lounge, as well as a ‘multi-purpose entertainment suite’ for movie screenings, virtual golf and more. Call 020 3504 5813.
Although many houses have been crammed onto the plot, the architectural quality shines through. The grid-shaped buildings overlooking the central gardens have crisp white concrete facades, a reference to the marble-clad pavilions from the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition that gave the neighborhood its name.
A stadium built for the 1908 Olympics continued as an athletic site for a long time, and in the late 1930s London County Council built a huge municipal estate over part of the fairgrounds, while the Purpose-built television center by the BBC opened in 1960. the rest of the land was swallowed up by warehouses and distribution depots.
Westfield London, which opened in 2008, was a game-changer. Along with the glitzy mall came a new Zone 2 tube station at Wood Lane as well as a new Overground station, sparking more regeneration. The mayor’s broader strategy is for White City to connect with other areas of opportunity in West London, such as Kensal Canalside and a 2,350-acre site at Old Oak Common, where 24,000 homes and a super transport hub are planned.
“Got a 10% discount as a key NHS worker”
As architectural transformations go on, the change at Nine Elms in South West London is remarkable. Yet there are more worthy examples of outstanding architecture in the more gritty and less expensive hinterland of Battersea.
Coda, in York Way, will strike a chord if you agree with the famous German writer Goethe that architecture is frozen music.
The 24-story tower certainly hits the right notes, with 130 houses above the brand new headquarters of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD).
The building’s bold and flowing form is said to be inspired by the dynamic movement of the dancers, with a projecting bay facade receding upwards to give a sense of rhythm. Certainly, the project sets the bar higher for this pocket of Battersea, characterized by a mix of public and private housing.
Flanking Coda are two smaller housing association blocks, all sitting on a landscaped one-story podium that flows into a new public promenade.
Coda’s facade is clad in textured glass and aluminum that looks like stone, while apartments have full-height glazing and many have dual-aspect balconies. An entrance hall has a 24-hour concierge, as well as a gym, residents’ lounge, underground parking and bicycle storage, while the podium garden has designated areas for relaxation and yoga and Pilates sessions.
The new RAD complex below has seven dance studios, two cafes and a specialized archive library.
NHS doctor Gergana Peeva, 39, was a hasty buyer in Coda, being “struck by the architecture and the fabulous views”.
She had rented in Chelsea and expected to live north of the river, but spotted Coda on a chance visit to Battersea and bought a house off plan.
âI chose a one-bedroom corner apartment with a view of Canary Wharf and the Shard,â she says. âIt has a perfect balance between outdoor and indoor space. The bonus was that I got a 10 percent discount as a key NHS worker. The two-bedroom apartments start at Â£ 770,000 and feature Poggenpohl kitchens, Corian countertops and Poliform wardrobes. Call 020 7924 6077.
Coda is the creation of architectural firm Patel Taylor, which also made its mark with London Dock, an elegant redevelopment of the former News International headquarters in Wapping, E1.