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Old January 30th, 2013, 06:37 PM   #361
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I don't get why people on SKYSCRAPERCITY are moaning about these proposals. This kind of building is what Canary Wharf is all about - in no purpose-built business district on the planet do you get truly innovative architecture, its not conducive to the kind of shapes and sizes of space most businesses need (see the problems with the Pinnacle for example). And when it comes to residential stuff, developers aren't going to spend extra money on style over substance when they wont get any extra return for that effort. Man up and be happy we might get more high rise towers in the UK!!
I presume that some people are moaning here because they do not want London to become similar to those Asian mega cities. They prefer quality instead of quantity. I agree with them to some extent. Let me elaborate. I am interested in architecture, not in skyscrapers as such. The Leadenhall building combine both. It is definitely my favourite. But the drawback of architectural quality and materials is the price. Only the richest can afford it. It actually all depends on the purpose. Ballymore did not submit these two new towers to win an architectural price or to attract the richest people in London (as they do with Pan Peninsula or Providence Wharf). Instead, they target here the middle-classes with average revenues, i.e. those people that just search for a decent place to live in. Of course, if prices are lower, architectural quality is lower as well. As I said, personally I am interested in developments with high architectural quality. But I understand that most Londoners are just interested in a home they can afford. Ballymore aims at answering to that demand.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 06:45 PM   #362
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Why do you say it's targetted at less wealthy buyers? Are the anticipated sales prices much lower or something?
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Old January 30th, 2013, 08:14 PM   #363
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Oh yes, looking at what is proposed, the prices will be much lower than those at the top notch developments at Providence Wharf or Pan Peninsula. The targeted population is different. What I am saying is that I am interested in architectural quality, but I reckon this comes with a cost. London also need large scale developments for the middle classes, and this scheme aims at providing homes to those families, which are not millionaires. I do not see anything wrong with that.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 11:49 PM   #364
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Hmm not the most interesting but goes with the CW theme i guess. People seem to bemoan the predicatble canary wharf blocks but i think it makes for a nice difference when compared to the City's more organic designs and layout, if you can call them that (?).
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Old January 31st, 2013, 12:03 PM   #365
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The problem isn't that the Canary Wharf masterplan, at ground level, offers a stark contrast to the rest of London, the problem is that given that the skyline of canary Wharf is visible from much of East, and South East London, was is built there should add visual drama to the view, it should encourage people to look up and see something worth staring at. Proposals like this merely add to the wall that CW is becoming, making the skyline less varied, less interesting and less worth looking at.

It's all very well to say how typically CW these are, and how they fit in, but the ultimate end point of all these projects is simply a wall of glass and geometric shapes that have no real drama about them. And what's worse is that, in cities like Vancouver, where the skyline is effectively a boring wall of glass, the planners have been intelligent enough to create a brilliant ground level experience for people, the same cannot be said of CW, which offers an increasingly bland view from afar, and a cold unfriendly experience when walking around it.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 01:04 PM   #366
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I would agree that the ground level experience needs improving, but I see no good reason for any planners to be aiming for more "drama" in CW. I think the vast majority of people would look at an assertion like that with bemusement. Besides, there's plenty of drama in the City, and it's nice that London has clusters for both.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 01:37 PM   #367
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There isn't plenty of drama in the city, there's a tiny cluster hemmed in by strict sightlines and a splattering of constrained sites that have lead to some interesting shapes from some angles. From others it's a rather underwhelming sight that won't improve much in the coming years because there are almost no sites left for tall buildings.

Canary Wharf, by contrast, has free rein upto a ceiling set by the flight paths into City Airport, there are no viewing corridors and the only barriers to design are those created by developers themselves. Simply because there are several boxy buildings there already, doesn't mean the trend should not be broken or resisted. In terms of residential architecture, which is arguably far more flexible in what can be offered, the standard we see at CW is poor, and not particularly ambitious. The tallest residential in the UK, at Pride, is lacking any design integrity whatsoever, and that's fine because a few people seem to think Canary Wharf should be throwing up the same stuff it has in recent years? Seriously?

If we go back to the original Pelli masterplan, of the three proposed tall buildings, none of them had flat roofs, so why, when the original intention was for something slightly above the bog standard, people now seem to demand the buildings at CW lack any drama, is something of a mystery!
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Old January 31st, 2013, 09:30 PM   #368
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They're ok, well... they're nice enough in isolation - but why oh why can't there be at least an attempt to be different in this area, even if they bullshit us into some false sense of a creative streak. The area is set to look like a posh man's Benidorm.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 01:48 AM   #369
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I would agree that the ground level experience needs improving, but I see no good reason for any planners to be aiming for more "drama" in CW. I think the vast majority of people would look at an assertion like that with bemusement. Besides, there's plenty of drama in the City, and it's nice that London has clusters for both.
Well there is a bit of a sad mix going on here... Canary Wharf Estate doesnt care, Tower Hamlets is still experiencing the Heseltine enterprise zone after shock and the Mayors Office hasnt got that far East yet, oh and there is a city airport that is preventing capitalism from doing its thing. Its a bit of an unusual bad combination! The general population would certainly be excited if it held the gaze like Pudong does, you might even get people hanging out there.

Drama is key for a city to entertain its population, it always has done this and new emerging cities are cleverly using this to express itself on scales never dreamt of before.

People might argue that Canary Wharf is being harmonious, but the scale is all wrong, it is merely a harmony of base grade A office requirements. There used to be a relative juxtapositon and drama (in terms of its corporate N.American architecture appearing out of the blue in the UK and height) but that has receded as the enterprise zone filled its outlined cube with minimal discourse.

In isolation this development certainly has some drama from their sheer scale and have attractive proportions; say on the waterfront when viewing from a passing boat but from middle and longer distance everyone can see what is going on here that the cluster really has no identity or focal points. This is a very non-human state of affairs and does not help Londons shift East.

It is an attitude more worthy of more something to be expected in Croydon and not London. When I think of the throngs of people taking time to gaze looking at the great skyscraper skylines for their sheer spectacle it is frustrating that we dont have anywhere really in London that can match this new scale that half of the world now expects.

So Canary Wharf has an airport next to it and over time buildings have created a stumpy flat cluster due to the economics. So why not distract the attention away from this fundamental planning and design flaw (how very British) and create some stand-out architecture at a few key points?

The river front makes a perfect place, something to catch the eye, be it colour or shape or even a tapering or vanishing top so that it doesnt appear to be so cynically adding to the flatness of the cluster.

You can see the advantages of this approach as anyone can see how much better the cluster appears at night (in fact why not take this further with some clever LED displays?), by day it desperately just needs something with panache and daring until the airport is closed and we can let capitalism take the reigns again.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 11:11 AM   #370
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^ London probably has more dramatic buildings, and in more varied styles, than any other city in the world. Canary Wharf has One Canada Square, the best station on the Tube, and, over the river, the O2 Dome, Cable Car, Greenwich Naval College, etc. Most of the others are less memorable, but imo not every building should be a landmark. Too many look-at-me attention seekers doesn't make an attractive cityscape.

And I'd be wary of taking Pudong as your model. At street level it's a total failure (Canary Wharf is actually far nicer), and most of the "dramatic" 90s buildings just look naff and dated now, not to mention poorly built.

I personally love the minimalism and slenderness of this design. It may not break the mould. Indeed they could have been designed decades ago. However I still love them. Canary Wharf has too many fat-arse corporate boxes (eg the Barclays HQ) and not enough soaring slender towers such as these. I also like the use of white reconstituted stone. It will help to lighten and break up those blank walls of dark oppressive glass on the CW estate.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 12:23 PM   #371
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And I'd be wary of taking Pudong as your model. At street level it's a total failure
We are not talking about streetscape at all and we are talking about the new type of scale of drama offered by contemporary architecture celebrated around the world and in particular the skyscraper. Either way in terms of streetscape Canary Wharf is hardly exemplar in this regard with even Manhattan now winning rave reviews for its latest linear park project and attracting worldwide recognition for it.

Im using Pudong as an example as it is a new (1990s) part of that city near the previous old skyline of the Bund that still forms part of the city's identity, but with the new scale of the capitalist office and hotel development of Pudong they also attempted to contribute to this existing city's identity with another spectacle and it worked, the citizens are extremely proud of it, more so than the Bund which had become more and more insignificant in terms of the overall size of the city.

There are are a number of bars and restaurants that the public can enter at the top of the buildings, where is any of this in Canary Wharf? In terms of breathtaking eye catching architecture The Shanghai World Financial Center building beats hands down the combined effort of the entire Canary Wharfs Estates efforts in its 25 year history. What did we get instead? A nice shiny tall building but which in reality was just lifted cladding intact from a sub-par slice of Manhatten. I mean really! The new Shanghai Tower is going to be even more spectacular.

Canary Wharf is equal in concept to Pudong, it is a new type of scale for the city with expensive real estate with big name companies, top end residential and hotels, it is no backoffice and budget rent inspired Aldgate.

It seems London is still sadly stuck in its traditional old core mentality

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Old February 1st, 2013, 12:55 PM   #372
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I agree that the SWFC is more impressive than One Canada Square or HSBC (which are probably the best towers in CW). However the planning of Pudong is rubbish. Most Shanghainese rarely go there, and think of it the way many Londoners think of Canary Wharf: a not-quite-accepted upstart across the river (I know this because my wife and her family are Shanghainese). The bars at the top of the skyscrapers are unknown to most Shanghainese. They're mainly frequented by foreigners or a small minority of rich locals. And by the way there is a bar with a panoramic view in Canary Wharf, Attic Bar on the 50th floor of Pan Peninsula.

Nearby landmarks such as the Greenwich Naval College, the O2 Dome, or, elsewhere in the metropolis, Wembley Stadium or Heathrow T5, are as impressive as any in central London. London has plenty examples of fine architecture, both old and new, beyond the old core.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 01:18 PM   #373
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Nobody is saying CW should be a like for like replica of Pudong, simply that Pudong does one thing better than CW, and that is to provide a dramatic and interesting skyline that is far more recognisable and unique than that of CW, whilst operating within the similar parameter of being a new area built at a completely different scale to its surroundings. The argument is that there is no reason why, under the height ceiling enforced by the CAA, CW cannot offer its own dramatic and recognisable skyline with harmonious architecture that facilitates a decent skyline. This doesn't mean a collection of weird shaped 'iconic' buildings, but rather a collection of buildings each designed with awareness of how, as a whole, they will contribute to an interesting vista. As it is, the only thing about this development that differentiates it from everything else, is that one small architectural feature of white horizontal banding, I don't think that is enough, and given the scale and height of the building, it will still blend into the ever thicker wall of towers.

At the moment the developers on the Wharf are all simply pursuing the same individual goals, maximum floorspace and maximum profit, nobody is bringing them together to create something, that through collective design, can demand a premium. Be it at ground level, where decent consistent design would create somewhere people want to be, upping rents for retail units and increasing the desirability of the area as a place to actually live and work, or as an overall skyline, where a more dramatic take on things would give the apartments a place in an internationally recognisable skyline, desirable for people the world over.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 05:04 PM   #374
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Hold on it's a load or rubbish to say people respond to a city better if it's skyline is full of drama is codswallop. The idea that the Isle of Dogs would be better if there were some 70 storey office towers is not true. Pudong looks good, at night, from a distance. It has some excellent towers but plenty of rubbish ones. It's streetscape is a mess, there is nothing there that would make a pedestrian feel welcome, or that you'd want to hang out there. The problem of Pudong and the reason it has so much variety is that loads of different land owners pursued there own agenda. They drew up a Masterplan by Roger/Foster that would have created a coherent city centre, but they completely ignored it.

The problem the Wharf has is that it is owned by one landowner who also does all the development. If it just developed the estate and sold each plot to a different developer then we would have different designs at the estate. But no doubt the same person was in control for long stretches of time and a house style settled over the estate. From a urban design perspective the problem with the Wharf is that it thought of itself as purely as high rise business park. So it's buildings are efficient cubes in a pretty landscaped setting. Only they did not want to sully there office towers with retail and bars and so the pushed them into underground malls. Great for office workers who don't need umbrellas or outside coats on to go to lunch, but not a thrilling streetscape.

There is a plateau effect in the Wharfs building height but as a result from the CAA height ruling, but I doubt it would have been much different without it. Most of the buildings are below that limit. Office towers are most profitable below 50-60 storeys and rarely exceed it.

The other reason for its antisceptic feel is lack of granuality. It's all huge floorplates. If they had alternated with one block of large floorplates and another with narrow plots filled with different sized buildings, then it would have more closely resembled an actual american downtown and had a much more vibrant street life. It seems they are trying to rectify it with the Wood Wharf.

The rest of the Islands problem is no one other than banks are really interested in moving there, so not many are interested in moving to an office outside the estate.
Which means the unless it's profile changes the Island is doomed to become a high rise dormitory for the Wharf, as low to mid rise business space loses out to 40 storey blocks of flats.

What it needs is for a retail and bar strip to open up amongst the towers to help give the area it owns feel, but that won't happen because the council would not want to undermine any neighbouring retail centres in it's local plan.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 05:24 PM   #375
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that is far too clinical. Of course identity and the excited anticipation of something more than the mundane (the drama) is woven into the history of urbanism where architecture and scale has always been key.

Obviously there are other parts to successful urban places such as the freedoms and expressions of the population and the economy but really they all thrive off each other at some point.

There is a reason why Milton Keynes is ridiculed despite its efforts at successful urban planning while Dubai is now seen as a glamourous global destination despite its obvious flaws.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 06:05 PM   #376
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Also Canary Wharf has a lot of restaurants and bars around the square, still hasn't made it a destination for people other than those who work there.

I spent 2 years there and actually became fond of it, but architecture is absolutely a key component in making it more successful and appealing. Imagine a building like a Gherkin in CW - it would change the whole mindset of the area.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 10:49 PM   #377
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that is far too clinical. Of course identity and the excited anticipation of something more than the mundane (the drama) is woven into the history of urbanism where architecture and scale has always been key.

Obviously there are other parts to successful urban places such as the freedoms and expressions of the population and the economy but really they all thrive off each other at some point.

There is a reason why Milton Keynes is ridiculed despite its efforts at successful urban planning while Dubai is now seen as a glamourous global destination despite its obvious flaws.
Milton Keynes has a successful street grid and town centre street plan, but it's town centre is nothing more than a rationalised and tidy out of town business park, it's not very urban.

Dubai success started on winter sun and spectacular hotels. It has kept in search of spectacle as it needs to keep the tourists coming. I don't think many would argue it is a city you would want to emulate.

While I'm all in favour of varied roofs to provide a bit of variety and different building designs. I'd firmly say that a good street pattern varied building sizes and a mix of uses is more important to providing a good urban experience. Different parts of a city need grand buildings to act as focal points, define neighbourhoods and give a sense of drama, but non of these need to be very tall.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 10:54 PM   #378
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Also Canary Wharf has a lot of restaurants and bars around the square, still hasn't made it a destination for people other than those who work there.

I spent 2 years there and actually became fond of it, but architecture is absolutely a key component in making it more successful and appealing. Imagine a building like a Gherkin in CW - it would change the whole mindset of the area.
The wharf has thin skim of bars and restaurants around it's outer docks walks and now realising their mistake is several other spots. But there is not a high density of them and there are no other evening entertainments, such as theatres, nightclubs, music venues or casino's to attract a wider audience. Also all the venues are rather corporate so its not going to attract many people who live any distance away as most of restaurants trading there can be found closer to home.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 08:38 PM   #379
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The feel I get of canary wharf at ground level is that its clinically clean with a slight feeling of emptiness....I suspect the latter will gradually disappear as the cluster grows larger
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Old February 5th, 2013, 05:06 PM   #380
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The feel I get of canary wharf at ground level is that its clinically clean with a slight feeling of emptiness....I suspect the latter will gradually disappear as the cluster grows larger
Agreed. An opportunity lost there.
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