One can’t help but look up when stood beneath these gigantic, towering edifices – tributes to business and finance, a statement of our desire to reach from the gutter to the stars. They rise in a symphony of steel and glass. They are often immersed in clouds and fog, their lights acting as beacons on the night skyline, for everyone from the city’s denizens to the planes that cross the airspace above the capital.
Canary Wharf still suffers a little from its isolation – as our photos are testament to. Come the weekend, many of the bars and restaurants in Canary Wharf are closed (almost all of them on Sunday) and the people are nowhere to be seen. It becomes a strangely beautiful maze of towers, office blocks and underground shopping malls – with the congregations of navy blue suits gone for 2 days.
It is a serene, delicate, vast and empty playground of form and shape contrasting and colliding. A city within a city.
Modern art is well at home in Canary Wharf. There are statues found in gardens and installations held throughout the year in Canada Square but more interesting are the architectural works found within and even outside some of the skyscrapers – such as the wire trees sculptures by Bassett & Findley in the courtyard of the DS3 (pictured below).
There are few places where one can find an air of calm in London on a weekend. But here is one such place. On a perfect day, the towers reflect each other in a mangle of glass and cloud, and the streets are calm with very few cars, busses or people.
Once, the docklands that now hold these skyscrapers were where fruits and vegetables from the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean were unloaded. This ended years ago, leaving the docks in disrepair – an empty shell where nothing grew and where no one lived. But in 1990, all that changed with the arrival of the pyramid-topped One Canada Square, and what was, for two decades (until the arrival of The Shard) Britain’s tallest building. Since then, the area has exploded, with tens of skyscrapers and a huge underground station connected to central London by the Jubilee line.
The Canary Wharf underground station is a vast cavernous series of descending halls leading to wide train platforms in directions both east and west. But above, they are but green hued curves of glass rising as tunnels from the ground. Some are surrounded by skyscrapers while others come to the surface amongst gardens of trees and perfectly manicured inner-city flower beds.
Despite the wonderful underground station and the futuristic, elevated DLR platforms, the most scenic, and most inspiring way to arrive to Canary Wharf is by boat just as the sun goes down and the sunset casts the tops of the skyscrapers in a beautiful orange glow.