Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, One Park Drive is Canary Wharf’s signature residential building

Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, One Park Drive is Canary Wharf’s signature residential building

In three decades, London’s Canary Wharf Group has regenerated a desolate area of the Docklands into a global business epicentre: a densely-packed 128 acres with an international reputation as upstanding as its iconic skyline. It has seen the capital’s economic centre of gravity shift eastwards from the City and a high benchmark for civic engineering set in the process. It’s a remarkable achievement.

Despite this, Canary Wharf was a place where people come to work and shop, not live and grow. But this is about to change. Thanks to the Canary Wharf Group, this already vibrant area is set to become a bona fide neighbourhood, with high streets, boutique arcades, cultural venues, abundant public art, over nine new acres of plazas and parks, and amenities such as a doctors’ surgery and a primary school. It will be, the Group explains, ‘a place to put down roots, raise a family and be part of a community. A place to call home.’

Heading this development is One Park Drive, designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. The firm’s first residential tower in London, One Park Drive is intended to be a standard bearer for domestic architecture across the city.

The project humanises the questions of material and aesthetic that mark Herzog & de Meuron’s finest works, including the totemic Tate Modern Switch House on London’s Bankside, New York’s 56 Leonard Street and the imposing Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing. How, they ask, should we live in tall buildings? The answer? ‘As humanly as possible.’

It’s appropriate then that this cylindrical, 58-storey structure, located at the entrance to the dock, eschews overwrought styling in favour of holistic purpose. The tower has three distinct zones: the lower Loft; middle Cluster; and upper Bay. The Loft apartments, with high ceilings and wraparound terraces, are some of the largest in One Park Drive, affording a close engagement with the waterfront and surrounding green spaces. The Cluster apartments, with their geometric facades, comprise the heart of the building. Finally, the Bay apartments, in the upper reaches of the tower, feature double-height terraces set back into the building, and are designed to both maximise interior light and afford near-panoramic views across the capital.

Inside, the living spaces are imbued with a sense of calm and luxurious intimacy. Surfaces are tactile and finishes natural; an aesthetic complement to the distinct apartment zones. ‘We look for materials that are as breathtakingly beautiful as the cherry blossom in Japan or as condensed and compact as the rock formations of the Alps,’ explain the architects. The results are as refined as the philosophy that underpins them.

But One Park Drive is not an insular building. Spread across the ground and first floors, the communal areas are fully integrated and positively engage with the surroundings by way of floor-to-ceiling windows. The ground floor houses a reception, concierge, lounge, cinema and library, while a health club with gym, spa and serene 20m-pool is located on the first.

With the opening of Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line in late 2018 – roughly coinciding with the arrival of One Park Drive’s first residents – Canary Wharf will be one of the best connected, most desirable and secure neighbourhoods in London. ‘When we started Canary Wharf, we had a vision,’ says Sir George Iacobescu, chairman and CEO of Canary Wharf Group. ‘We wanted to create not just a collection of exceptional buildings, but a place.’ With this masterplan, they’ve done just that. These 128 acres will soon become a place to call home – a unique architectural achievement and the very best in city and waterside living.


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