PRESS RELEASE: Canary Wharf Group Shares Roadmap to Accelerate London’s Economic Future


Canary Wharf Group launches new report into the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the Capital’s entrepreneurs, residents and environment


Future Proofing London’s Economy shares the views of industry experts in four key areas – London’s evolving business landscape, new technologies, sustainability and talent


Report launch will be the first public event to take place in Wood Wharf, Canary Wharf’s new district



LONDON: Wednesday 12th February 2020 – Canary Wharf Group has today published a new report, Future Proofing London’s Economy, that sets out a series of recommendations for London’s people, policymakers and businesses to realise the capital’s economic potential in the coming decades.

With academics, entrepreneurs and investors sharing their perspectives, alongside senior figures from Canary Wharf Group, the report identifies four key areas that will most profoundly impact London’s economic future. From allowing emerging sectors in an evolving business landscape to thrive to harnessing new technologies and infrastructure capabilities; as well as embracing sustainability and nurturing the next generation of talent.

Recommendations from the report include London businesses truly embracing financial inclusion, prioritising digital skills, collectivising the private sector to fight climate change, uplifting connectivity investment, creating a scale-up ecosystem and more.

Contributors to the report include UCL, Microsoft, Cisco, Transport for London, BGF and the Committee on Climate Change.

The report is being launched at an event today at Wood Wharf, the new development from Canary Wharf Group, with five million sq ft of mixed-use space including a school and medical centre, more than 3,000 new homes and two million sq ft of world-class commercial space. The event will take place in 10 George Street, the first Wood Wharf building to come online, a Build to Rent building from Vertus, Canary Wharf Group’s new rental arm and will be the first time the public has been invited on to the development.

Shobi Khan, CEO, Canary Wharf Group, comments, “Canary Wharf Group has overseen the largest urban regeneration project ever undertaken in Europe and transformed London’s business landscape, consolidating the city’s position as a global business capital. 30 years later, Wood Wharf is set to transform the city again, providing space for a new generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs, and a neighbourhood for people shaping the future of London. With tree-lined walkways, street level outlets for independent retailers, industry leading sustainability initiatives and an abundance of public spaces – Wood Wharf is an environment that will allow future talent to thrive and communities to prosper. Wood Wharf is our commitment to the continued success and growth of London, its economy and its businesses.”

The full report, Future Proofing London’s Economy, is available to download here.

– ENDS –


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Notes to Editors:

About Canary Wharf Group:

Company description

Canary Wharf Group (CWG) has overseen the largest urban regeneration project in Europe and is a fully integrated private real estate company that develops, manages and currently owns approximately 8.5 million square feet of office space, 1 million square feet of retail and 327 Build to Rent units.  The company’s current £3.8 billion development pipeline is composed of 1.5 million square feet of office/retail properties, and over 3,000 new homes: for sale, for rent, intermediate and affordable. CWG is an industry leader in sustainability including purchasing 100% renewable electricity for the Estate since 2012 and zero waste going to landfill from the managed Estate since 2009.  In the last 20 years, CWG has helped generate over £2 billion of business for local companies.
Instagram: @canarywharflondon
Twitter: @CanaryWharfGrp
Twitter: @YourCanaryWharf
Twitter: @Level39CW


Changing Perceptions


In an era which is being defined by substantial political division, the backlash of big tech, and widening social inequalities – the Canary Wharf Group brought together those that are looking to shape the future of London and find solutions that are changing businesses and society for the better. 

‘Changing Perceptions in a Divided Society’ was the first in a series of events that looked to the actions that are being taken to future proof the city against a backdrop of ongoing political turmoil and immediate threats to London’s global standing. 

The morning’s discussion was introduced by Head of Leasing at Canary Wharf Group, Tarun Mathur – who shared with attendees the size, scale and ambitions of the new Wood Wharf development. Currently the largest regeneration project in London, Wood Wharf is set to become the home of 20,000 tech and creative businesses, and has been designed and built to create an environment that engages the local community and provides the space and infrastructure for inclusive growth. 

Having welcomed guests and speakers, Tarun handed over to the event moderator, Peter Evans, Enterprise Editor at The Sunday Times – one of Britain’s leading business journalists and a reporter who actively reveals the stories of entrepreneurs across the UK economy that are doing things differently and championing a better economy.

Changing Perceptions in a Divided Society 


Having introduced the themes of the day, Peter welcomed the first keynote speaker to the stage. Cephas Williams is the award-winning campaigner who created ‘56 Black Men,’ a movement that questions the prevailing representation of black men in society and the perceptions that are generated by negative stereotyping. Having studied architecture at university, Cephas also explores the relationship that the built environment has with the people that inhabit the space and champions local communities playing a more significant role in the development of the surrounding environment. Cephas spoke of his journey in creating several influential movements and the path he has trodden in battling issues of mental health and becoming an agent of change in society. Cephas concluded by taking questions from Peter Evans and revealing the practical means with which businesses can better engage with the issues that can cause divisions in society.

A Tech Sector that Works for Everyone


Next, the event turned to Tech for Good and the role that technology is playing in society at large. Peter was joined by Europe’s leading investor in businesses that are using technology to tackle big social and environmental problems, along with an entrepreneur they have backed that is on a mission to transform community engagement with development projects. Paul Miller, CEO of Bethnal Green Ventures and Mike Saunders, co-founder of Commonplace, passionately described the opportunity that London has in pioneering Tech for Good, righting the wrongs, and avoiding the pitfalls that big tech has encountered in recent years. There was unanimous agreement that the growth incentive for creating and scaling technologies that change the world for the better was undeniable, and we are already seeing a greater emphasis placed upon having purpose at the centre of a business. There is no trade off – London can define itself as the international centre for tech entrepreneurs creating profit with purpose.

The Imperative of Diversity in the Financial Services and Tech 


To wrap up the morning, Catherine Wines took to the stage for the final keynote address. Catherine is the founder of WorldRemit – one of Britain’s standout tech unicorns, now valued at over $900million – and a leading voice within the tech sector as a campaigner of greater inclusivity in tech. Catherine spoke of the need to recognise the importance that migrant workers have in the economy – and the critical impact that skilled overseas talent has in spurring the tech community on and creating growth. Catherine highlighted the need to share the message that Britain is open and welcoming to migrants, and that our ability to successfully deploy an immigration policy that supports the tech community will prove critical to wider economic prosperity for Britain. 

As the first of the ‘Changing Perceptions’ event series drew to a close, the audience was left with a final reminder that times have changed and are demanding that we reimagine how we do business.

PRESS RELEASE: Canary Wharf Group and Cisco announce first-ever commercial deployment of OpenRoaming

Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, no login required


London, UK – October 30th, 2019: Canary Wharf Group, owner of one the largest business centres in Europe, and Cisco have today announced the world’s first commercial trial deployment of OpenRoaming.

Combining the convenience of mobile roaming with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, OpenRoaming allows devices to connect automatically to Wi-Fi and seamlessly roam from one hotspot to another without the need for the user to log in. The joint initiative will also provide up to four times faster wireless speeds by deploying Cisco Wi-Fi 6 access points, along with sophisticated location-based analytics to allow its clients to build unique services for their customers.

The City of London contributes more than 22% of the UK’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Having overseen the largest urban regeneration project ever undertaken in Europe, in London Docklands, Canary Wharf Group is at the heart of the capital’s economy with 17 million square feet of high-quality commercial office and retail space. The estate has a working population of 120,000 people with an additional 40,000 visitors daily on weekdays and 130,000 visitors over the weekend. There are up to 4,250 homes in development, in a state of the art ‘smart’ environment across the estate.

Over the last six years, Canary Wharf Group has provided first class infrastructure to over 200 start-ups based in its renowned technology hub, Level39. Wood Wharf, a 5 million square foot regeneration project on the estate, will provide the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 connectivity to its fast-growth businesses and residents when it opens its doors to tenants in 2020. The latest wireless standard delivers dramatically faster speeds, improved capacity, along with lower latency and longer battery life.

OpenRoaming is anticipated to dramatically improve efficiencies and flexibility of onboarding Wi-Fi seamlessly and securely for the more than 20,000 entrepreneurs, as well as independent retailers, bars, cafes, hotels and workspaces, such as The Office Group, Hoxton Hotel’s new affordable branch NoCo, Grind and Pedlar, to be based at Wood Wharf.

“For the real estate industry, next generation connectivity is a critical utility. Extending the value of our services well beyond office space, our customers are demanding access to world-class digital infrastructure and connectivity,” says Sir George Iacobesco, Executive Chairman, Canary Wharf Group. “Canary Wharf Group is committed to creating an estate-wide environment in which businesses can thrive. As well as refreshing our provision for commercial customers, we are continuously evolving our offering to residents and visitors, and initiatives such as this ensure that we are able to do so. We’re delighted to be working with Cisco on this ground breaking initial deployment.”

“Canary Wharf Group is a pioneer in delivering the latest innovation to drive experiences for its businesses, shoppers and residents and we are proud to be a part of their vision for this iconic site,” added Scot Gardner, Chief Executive, Cisco UK and Ireland. “Secure connectivity is fundamental to the UK’s growth, and with best-in class Wi-Fi, as well as the seamless experience of OpenRoaming, Canary Wharf Group is providing the foundation for businesses to benefit from the digital economy.”

Canary Wharf will also help landlords and tenants to understand how their real estate is being used, with data analytics to drive efficiency in workspace design using Cisco DNA Spaces. Further, it enables over-the-top use cases such as location-based services, end user engagement and wayfinding to enable individuals to find the meeting room or retail store they are looking for.

OpenRoaming is a Cisco-led federation that includes trusted identity providers, allowing users to join any network that is part of the federation. It enables the network to securely auto-authenticate end user devices by using established identity providers, such as the user’s service provider or device manufacturer. Proven as a concept for the first time in February 2019, with attendees from around the world at MWC Barcelona, the network technology has now been tested in some of the most challenging environments – including Orkney, one of the remotest parts of the UK.


About Canary Wharf Group

Canary Wharf Group plc has overseen the largest urban regeneration project ever undertaken in Europe, designing and building more than 16.5m sq ft of London real estate, which now houses local and international companies and renowned retailers.

The Canary Wharf estate is a major retail destination comprising around 1m sq ft across five shopping malls, including the award-winning leisure development, Crossrail Place, housing one of London’s most stunning roof gardens. It also has world-class, year-round arts and events programme offering over 200 diverse and culturally inspiring events performed throughout the Estate.

Canary Wharf’s new district, Wood Wharf, will provide up to 3,600 new homes, 2m sq ft of office space, 380,000 sq ft of retail space and over eight acres of public spaces, squares and parks. There will also be a GP surgery and a two-form primary school for 420 children.

Canary Wharf Group is a wholly owned joint venture between Brookfield Property Partners and the Qatar Investment Authority.

Website:; Instagram: @canarywharflondon; Twitter @CanaryWharfGrp; @YourCanaryWharf; @Level39CW

About Cisco

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide technology leader that has been making the Internet work since 1984. Our people, products, and partners help society securely connect and seize tomorrow’s digital opportunity today. Discover more at and follow us on Twitter at @Cisco.

Cisco and the Cisco logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. A listing of Cisco’s trademarks can be found at Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship.

In conversation: Baby-Boomer vs Gen Z

Is the future of the workplace the same for everyone – no matter the age and experience? To find out, watch the conversation below.

Introduction: Meet Josh Thakrar and Allan Syms




What’s the most surprising thing about working at Canary Wharf?


Form over function? At work, is your priority having the tools you need to get the job done or is it the environment in which you have to do it?


To stay inspired would you rather… Hop from role to role within different companies? Or stay with the same company and move offices from time to time?


The evolution of technology – where we’ve come from…


…and what about emojis?




The internet is down for the foreseeable future, how would you last the working week?


Within your workplace, make your choice: Keep one, trial one, ban one forever


Within your workplace, make your choice: Rate these amenities in order of priority


What does the future of the workplace look like to you?




…is the virtual world the only way forward?


To get something sorted would you rather make a phone call, or send 15 emails over the course of one day?


How do you de-stress during a hectic week?

Bruce Daisley: The Joy of Work

“The reason that you’re here is because we’re designing Wood Wharf with scaling entrepreneurial businesses and individuals in mind” – Tarun Mathur, Canary Wharf Group


The #WeAreWoodWharf event series is bringing members of London’s scale-up community together for intimate gatherings to encourage important discussions and establish meaningful connections.

Our first event was hosted by Bruce Daisley, Twitter’s former VP EMEA and the Sunday Times’ bestselling author of The Joy of Work. The event focused on exploring the changes that can be made to create a happier and more engaged workforce.

Following breakfast, provided by FarmerJ and 640East, (Wood Wharf neighbourhood favourites), guests were invited to join Bruce Daisley to talk about workplace culture, and how they could achieve The Joy of Work. Bruce was at Twitter in its scale-up stage and has seen first-hand the significance of workplace culture, and just how defining it can be to a businesses’ success.




A businesses success depends on its employees, with Bruce voicing that one of the most significant factors in creating the best teams is psychological safety. Creating an environment in which feedback can be given candidly, and securely, whilst also allowing for mistakes to be admitted to without fear of the consequences.

It isn’t just the type of environment, but how long we spend in it which plays a significant role. Given the success of Elon Musk, people might find it surprising that Bruce advises against Musk’s hustle culture, encouraging attendees to be inspired more by the prolific writer, Charles Dickens. Dickens would write for 5 hours in the morning before spending his afternoon walking 10 miles; make sure you allow time for yourself within your day, to stimulate your creativity.




With the observation that small teams make better decisions, there was also hugely encouraging messages for the Wood Wharf community that is being built for scale-ups, and to support their growth. Size does matter, but perhaps not in the way that we traditionally think.

Bruce spoke of changes that can be made, which “lead to better ideas and more creativity” – most of these changes were small in nature, but big in impact. These ideas sparked discussion around the ideas brought to the room, and the broader issues around workplace culture, both with Bruce and among our scale-up guests.




The first of our #WeAreWoodWharf events achieved what is at the heart of the Wood Wharf community; innovators within the scale-up community coming together, to discuss the hot topics that matter. Creating an environment that allows people to learn and grow alongside each other, with Bruce Daisley providing insight from having been there, and done it.

We look forward to continuing to act as a connector for this community and driving the conversation, with our upcoming event in October centering around Wellbeing, hosted by Michael Wong. If the #WeAreWoodWharf event series is something you are interested in being involved in then contact us via Twitter or Instagram.

Events for the shakers, the makers and the innovators of London.

Smile, you’re on social media

A case of mistaken identity led to Patrick Ambron’s startup, BrandYourself. Like most successful businesses, the idea for BrandYourself was born from a problem. When a recruiter Googled Ambron’s co-founder and mistook him for a criminal, the entrepreneurs quickly searched for a reputational risk firm to ensure it could never happen again. Estimates of more than £15,000 drove them to find a more affordable solution to online management of reputation and privacy for themselves and others. BrandYourself has done so well, Ambron was offered funding on both sides of the Atlantic following appearances on Shark Tank in the U.S. and the Dragon’s Den. The 10-year old business now employs 100 people in two offices.




How does it work?

Our most popular products and services improve Google results. Some people come to us because Google brings up something negative on them. For example, we deal a lot with victims of revenge. Some people don’t have a negative, but they want to look more positive. They may freelance or own their own business and want a better Google result, or to be associated with a new business, rather than their previous company.

We have a clean up service that shows you all the posts you’ve been tagged in that you may not even realise could be damaging. There are other features, like finding all the places where your information may exist that you don’t want it to, so you can avoid being vulnerable to identity theft. We can find any account you’ve ever created and in one click, delete any you don’t need.

What was the most unexpected thing about being an entrepreneur?

Part of the appeal of starting a business is the idea that you don’t have a boss and all the freedom that comes with that. In reality, with staff, investors, and customers, you actually have more people to answer to and a lot more responsibility than your average employee.

What was the most challenging part of starting the business?

Prioritisation is a challenge in terms of sticking to a plan or one particular thing. There is a temptation to try multiple things for fear of missing something. You can end up chasing way too much – customers, features, building product. In doing so, it can be hard to prioritise, hypothesise and decide to pivot. Equally, a business that’s too scattered or lacks a clear pathway is likely to scare a savvy investor.

With recruiting, the most difficult part sounds obvious, but when it comes to building your team you’re going to be attracted to people like you with similar outlooks. In reality, what you really want to do to is find those people who fill in your gaps. It’s much harder in practice because you click with people who are more like you – but it’s really valuable to go out of your way to find people who have different points of view.

Why did you pursue funding from the Dragon’s Den?

We pursued Dragon’s Den and ultimately did a deal with Peter Jones, because we were starting to get a lot of traction organically in the UK. The idea wasn’t to get some huge investment, but to accelerate in the UK by partnering with a dragon that could open doors for us.

What about the dark side of digital reputation management? Are there any ethical conflicts when customers ask you to delete results?

This is something we thought about when we first started BrandYourself and continue to think about. We don’t work with violent criminals, people who have committed crimes of a sexual nature, hate crimes – we don’t work with anyone who falls into those categories. Ninety percent of our customers are victims of revenge. The ones we really like to help are those who just made a mistake and have turned things around. Anything that doesn’t fall into these categories is discussed and decided by our review board. There’s also the issue of using dubious methods to hide things that should be public. We’re a white hat firm, meaning we’re ethical rather than malicious in our intent. We’re not interested in removing things from the web that should be publicly accessible. If you have committed a crime, it’s still going to be in the public record.

How can consumers be proactive about managing our digital reputations?

  • Google yourself so you know the results and how they’re displayed.
  • Be mindful about where your information exists and how it’s being shared.
  • A positive digital reputation is important because people are often searching for re-enforcing factors as much as negative ones.
  • Be proactive, rather than reactive. There’s a lot you can do to protect yourself. Clean up your social media. Use LinkedIn and/or a personal website to build a positive online presence, so you control what’s most associated with you. This will help protect you against things that may come up later.

    Patrick Ambron is an entrepreneur and the co-founder of BrandYourself.

    Interview by Amy Guttman

    Twitter @AmyGuttman1

    Going places

    Cycle lanes in London may be about to get a lot busier. Call it, as some have, ‘Copenhagenisation’, after the city that has made bike lanes as wide as car lanes as part of its efforts to be the world’s first CO2-neutral capital by 2025. Or just see it as an inevitable consequence of embracing new, greener modes of transport in a city that, historically, has been rather attached to the internal combustion engined car. These days we’re all aware of, as economists refer to them, the car’s ‘negative externalities’ and their global impact.


    Yet it’s not consideration of the long-term, global issue of climate change that is driving a shift in attitude to transportation in London. “It’s more about the short-term, local and tangible,” argues Arun Khagram, head of consulting at MP Smarter Travel, a sustainable transport engagement agency, which works with local authorities and business improvement districts to introduce new ways of thinking on this matter.

    With London being the fourth most nitrogen dioxide polluted city in the world, naturally it’s a concern at the level of the individual and their family. “People have growing expectations of the built environment, particularly that it doesn’t have a negative impact on their lives,” notes Martin Gettings, head of sustainability for Canary Wharf Group, which has introduced rapid charging points and zero idling policies on its estates, among its sustainability activities – all contributing to the neighbourhoods clean air ambitions which are high on the agenda.

    Likewise, big businesses see involvement in the city’s environmental improvement as part of their progress towards sustainability accreditation. Smaller London businesses may be more interested in how eco transport can help their bottom line. “But while there’s a gap between interest and action,” says Khagram, “and while knowing where to start in what is becoming a very dynamic field can be confusing, if they discover through a pilot programme that, say, taking deliveries by cargo bike will be more cost-and-time-efficient, they’re quickly on board.”

    That’s a legitimate response – few people are without some self-interest. Therefore, across London and in many major European cities, there are diverse moves to incentivise us to tackle our dependence on environmentally-unfriendly transport. For example, workers are rewarded with reduced fares travelling on the Thames Clipper ferry – a cleaner mode of transport – to and from the Canary Wharf pier. Some are more subtle nudges to make car use more inconvenient: expect a future of even tighter emissions zoning and automated bollards popping up out of the ground to prevent access to roads at certain times of the day. But others are being readily embraced by city dwellers.



    According to Jaaniki Momaya, general manager of the transport consultancy and e-bike/scooter provider Lime, in Brussels, 37 percent its riders use Lime to get to and/or from public transport at least once a week, while 19 percent of riders use their services as a replacement for their car. And this trend is just as well. “Consider that 80 percent of Europeans are set to become city dwellers by 2050,” adds Momaya, “and it becomes clear that congestion, pollution and lack of space are only going to increase in the not so distant future.”

    London’s population is predicted to be 11 million-plus by 2050, so new ways of thinking are needed now. Consolidation is one approach: for individuals that might mean a shift to ride sharing; for businesses, the use of fewer vehicles to supply more product, or perhaps proposals to establish centres where freight is aggregated before finishing its inner-city journey by electric means.

    Yet the biggest tool driving change, says Khagram, will be technology. Jetson-esque vision of flying pods and delivery drones will continue to be the stuff of sci-fi for some time to come. Even ‘simple’ autonomous on-demand cars are, realistically, decades away. In the meantime, revolution may still come to London in the very physical form of what’s dubbed ‘micro mobility’. With 31 percent of European households now single occupancy, and a result of increased self-employment and ‘flexible’ working, ‘micro mobility’ is a potential solution to environmental anxieties and economic pressures, changing mobility demands and the nature of the journeys we make.

    This is the category comprising new forms of urban transport being enabled by ever-improving and affordable battery technology, the likes of cargo bikes, Segway-style vehicles, electric bikes and even hover-boards – all of which may one day be accessible via some future version of a Citymapper-style pass. Such forms are blurring the lines between the established ways of getting around. As Khagram puts it, we’re entering a time when we’ll look at cargo bike, for example, and ponder “just where does a bicycle stop and a van begin?”.

    Inevitably, this advance isn’t without its own complications – insurance, safety, signalling, storage, the new rules of the renaissance road will all need to be worked out sooner rather than later. But it represents a bold step towards a cleaner, quieter and more spacious city. And a necessary step too. “[We want] to benefit future generations by giving people more choice and therefore helping them shift reliance away from cars,“ says Momaya. “This move is essential if we’re ever going to be successful in reducing vehicle emissions and preventing the public health crisis of tomorrow.”

    “That’s right,” agrees Canary Wharf Group’s Gettings. “In a way we shouldn’t even be talking about ‘eco transport’, just transport and the way it needs to be now. Putting things in ‘eco’ boxes doesn’t always help. Eco transport just needs to be the norm.”

    Interview by Josh Sims

    PRESS RELEASE: Canary Wharf is the World’s First Commercial Centre to be Awarded Plastic Free Communities Status By Surfers Against Sewage

    On World Environment Day, Wednesday 5 June 2019, Canary Wharf Group has been awarded Plastic Free Communities Approved status by marine conservation charity Surfers against Sewage; in recognition of its work to reduce single-use plastic at Canary Wharf.

    Canary Wharf is the first district in London to achieve this sought-after status and is the world’s first Plastic Free Commercial Centre to be recognised by Surfers against Sewage.

    In June 2018, Canary Wharf Group launched Breaking The Plastic Habit Programme to remove single-use plastic from the Estate. Highlights include:

    – Over 2 million items of avoidable single-use plastic have been eliminated
    – Over 4 million coffee cupshave been recycled. If you stand these cups side by side they would stretch from London to Durham
    – Removal of over 1 million plastic straws with 83retailers on the Estate removing plastic straws entirely
    – Over 100,000water bottleshave been reused across sevenwater refill stations
    – Over 19,000bottlesrecycled using the UK’s first deposit Return Vending machine, rewarding users for recycling their plastic bottles
    – A new Sea Bin positioned in middle dock collects 30kg of plastica month from the waterways at Canary Wharf

    To reduce its plastic footprint and secure this accreditation, Canary Wharf Group committed to achieve targets across five key areas set out by Surfers Against Sewage. These elements included taking action with businesses and retailers to remove single use plastic, forging links with local communities and schools; and holding events to raise awareness.

    Canary Wharf Group also piloted the HELPFUL app, designed to help anyone at Canary Wharf to correctly recycle their waste, make the switch to reusable products to avoid single-use plastic and earn rewards at the same time.

    Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage“I’m delighted that Canary Wharf has achieved our Plastic Free Communities status, working to eliminate avoidable single-use plastics. This is the world’s first commercial centre to achieve our status, demonstrating their leadership, commitment and on-going journey to reduce the use of avoidable single-use plastics across the Estate. London is an ocean city, with the tidal Thames running through its heart, and Surfers Against Sewage is delighted to see ocean activism taking hold within such a globally renowned business centre overlooking this iconic river. Tackling plastic pollution is vital from source to sea and business leadership will help us all reinvent our relationship with plastic.”

    Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman and Chief Executive, Canary Wharf Group, says: “Canary Wharf’s Breaking The Plastic Habit programme is part of our long term commitment to deliver a future that’s truly sustainable at Canary Wharf. Our programme is designed to act as a blueprint for behavioural change and prompt wider action towards a single-use plastic-free future. It is our hope that this forms part of Canary Wharf’s legacy for a sustainable city in which we transform our community and spark a wider, long-term change for the better; not just for now but for future generations.

    Canary Wharf is one of the largest of the UK wide communities to achieve the Plastic Free Communities Approved status; Canary Wharf Group is now looking forward to working with other organisations at Canary Wharf to build on this initial groundwork and to work towards fully freeing its community from single-use plastics.

    For more details on Canary Wharf’s Group’s Breaking The Plastic Habit programme, please visit



    About Canary Wharf’s ‘Plastic Free Community’ commitment

    Canary Wharf Group has committed to use the Plastic Free Communities framework from Surfers Against Sewage as a guide to inform and unite businesses and consumers, in driving down the use of avoidable single-use plastics across the Canary Wharf Estate and offering sustainable alternatives where possible.

    This is not about removing all plastic on the Estate, but targeting specific, avoidable single-use plastic items and influencing a positive behavioural change amongst Canary Wharf stakeholders, encouraging them to rethink their own usage, and break the habit by incrementally and collectively moving away from throwaway plastics., Instagram: @surfersagainstsewage, Twitter @sascampaigns


    SAS Plastic Free Communities

    Plastic Free Communities exist to free where we live from single-use. They bring people together on a journey to tackle avoidable single-use plastic, from the beach all the way back to the businesses and brands who create it. It’s not about removing all plastic from our lives. It’s about kicking our addiction to throwaway single-use plastic, and changing the system that produces it. Join up and free where you live from single-use, one plastic bottle at a time


    Flora and Fauna

    Belgian landscape architect Peter Wirtz is the brains behind Wood Wharf’s open spaces. His company, Wirtz International, has designed some of the world’s most celebrated and beautiful public spaces, from Jubilee Park in Canary Wharf to Paris’ Carousel Gardens, which links the Louvre to the Tuileries Palace.


    A garden that’s not beautiful in winter is not a beautiful garden. That was the philosophy of my late father, Jacques, who founded our company in 1950. For almost 30 years my brother Martin and I worked with him on landscapes from Jubilee Gardens in Canary Wharf to Les Jardins du Carrousel in Paris – until his death in 2018. He taught me the meaning of beauty.

    It’s easy to please the crowds in the summer, but to please them in winter – in our dark, rainy climates – is far more of a challenge. You almost have to reveal a third dimension in nature by creating things that reflect the light to enhance space and colour. A garden has to keep its liveliness when the weather turns. I’ve been told we achieved that with Jubilee Park.

    But Wood Wharf is a very different animal. It’s of an extreme density and very wind-exposed, from the South Dock. And on top of everything, the water of the South Dock turns rather blackish in winter. So we’re using a lot of sweeping forms of ornamental grasses and perennials that look truly lovely in winter. They turn brownish and black and when you don’t mow them – which you should never do – are rather dramatic. And in the summer, they turn into a celebration of blues, purples, yellows and a bit of white.

    Here at Wood Wharf, we have pulled out all the stops. We have a massive splash of spring flowers with the flowering trees in spring, such as crabapples and cherry blossoms, which are white and pink. The paths swirl about in a serpentine way and the trees are planted in clumps. Then, along the boardwalk of the South Dock, I thought it the appropriate time to introduce prairie-type flowers – like the kind you would find on the American prairies. That’s rather fashionable at the moment, I know, but I gave it a twist. I used very few grasses and lots of perennial plants – a sort of variation on the theme of the herbaceous English border. I think it will be very jolly and uplifting… and fun.

    Competing with Wood Wharf’s powerful architecture was perhaps our greatest challenge. So I went for a complete contrast with the open spaces. They’ll be a gentle, lyrical world of very feminine forms – a visual massage to people who circulate through. There will be tree canopies under which they walk, and the ventilation shafts, security stuff and all the other less interesting things will be wrapped by masses of clipped beech shrubs so you forget they are even there.

    As for the fauna, where do I start? The Thames is a migration route for many breeds of bird, from nightjars to robins, geese and cormorants. And there are all sorts of green havens of peace where these birds can rest along the river. Wood Wharf, I hope will be one.

    Then there are the bees. I am a beekeeper myself and, if any bees feel like popping by I will give them a very good time. I think they will be swarming all over our blossoming flowers.

    Did I mention the migrating butterflies? Many will visit, but there is one above all that I hope will stop by. It is called the painted lady and it migrates from Norway to Southern Europe in three generations, with England as one of its pit stops. So I am sure they will touch down for a bite to eat at Wood Wharf. They are magnificent.

    Before I became a landscape architect I studied music at college. And gardens, like music, have the capacity to elevate you from the earth; to make you forget where you are.

    Take the Adagio of the 8thSymphony of Bruckner. When you hear that, you are transported to a world that abandons the pace and rhythm of your heart. So my strong hope is that when people pass through these green spaces they will also feel elevated from being in the Docklands, as though they are in another world.

    The Japanese Cherry, known also as The Bride, does that. When it flowers it is like a cloud of snow. It is without doubt the most enchanting flower I’ve ever seen.

    If there is one memory that sums up my childhood, it is travelling with my father, mother, brothers and sister to the most beautiful gardens in England, like Knightshayes Court in Devon and Kiftsgate Court Gardens in the Cotswolds. I remember some breathtaking moments discovering those marvels.

    But there is one that sticks out clearest of all. It is the day we visited Cranborne Manor Gardens in Devon. I must’ve been about seven. I looked across it, with its apple trees and lavender, peonies, honeysuckle and old-fashioned roses, and thought: ‘This is what I want to do.”

    If you visit one garden in your life, it should be Villa Lante, the renaissance garden in Italy. There is a sequence that goes from a forest to a very sophisticated clipped boxwood garden with inserted lemon trees. It has a water chain going through it, Spitting Neptunes, and Nymphs. It is exquisite. Man, those bishops in the Renaissance knew how to live.

    Interview by Matt Blake

    PRESS RELEASE: Landmark deal sees Third Space open premium health club in Wood Wharf

    LONDON – 31 January 2019
    Third Space, a leading luxury fitness lifestyle brand, announced today that it has exchanged contracts with Canary Wharf Group, following a tender process, to build and operate a new 40,000 square foot premium fitness and wellness club in the 23-acre Wood Wharf development, the new district of Canary Wharf.

    The health club will attract new members and residents of the Wood Wharf district in a unique arrangementwith a first class offering. Residents will have exclusive access to a luxurious resident’s only area, includinga private training facility, concierge, residents lounge, spa and pool. This is the first time Third Space has provided such an offering and is believed to be the first deal of its type in London.

    Colin Waggett, CEO of Third Space, said, “When people decide where to work or live, access to a health club is becoming an ever more significant factor – particularly among millennials who are spending record amounts of money on health and fitness. Place-making landlords such as Canary Wharf Group clearly recognise that Third Space’s unique and tailored proposition can differentiate and add value to their developments.”

    Wood Wharf is a new district in London’s Canary Wharf that will feature up to 3,600 new homes, 490,000 square feet of retail space and over two million square feet of office space as well as public spaces, squares and parks. The development is expected to create 20,000 new jobs and is specifically designed to accommodate fast-growth companies in the tech and creative sectors.

    Third Space Wood Wharf, which is expected to open in 2021, will feature a freestanding athletic rig, multi-purpose studios, a medical and beauty suite, a 20-metre swimming pool, and a spa. Waggett and his team are working with leading architects RHE on the early stage concept and design.

    Colin Waggett added, “Every Third Space club is unique. Despite being only a short walk from our existing 100,000 square feet Canary Wharf club, Third Space Wood Wharf will look and feel very different. The scale and quality of the Wood Wharf development and the continued growth of the whole Canary Wharf Estate gives us the confidence to add further capacity in this part of London.”

    Stuart Fyfe, Head of Retail Leasing,Canary Wharf Group, said: “As part of introducing residential homes to the Estate, the provision of a quality health club is key. We were looking for a complementary health and fitness partner that understood our vision of developing best-in-class facilities as part of a strong local community. Third Space’s combination of quality design, engaged membership and premium facilities, with its unique proposition for residents meets and surpasses all our aspirations for Wood Wharf.

    “As a tenant and partner, we are confident Third Space will be appreciated by Wood Wharf’s local residents, workers in Canary Wharf and surrounding area residents. Providing a premium fitness lifestyle proposition which reflects the latest health and fitness trends will be a significant attraction for the whole estate. We look forward to developing our excellent relationship with Third Space.”


    Media Contacts
    Rory King or Camilla Scassellati-Sforzolini
    Sard Verbinnen & Co.
    +44 20 7467 1050

    About Third Space
    Third Space is a luxury fitness lifestyle brand offering high quality fitness and wellness experience through premium fitness and wellness clubs. Backed by Encore Capital, Third Space was launched in 2001 and operates a portfolio of clubs in iconic locations across London, including Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, Soho, Marylebone, and Tower Hill, with a sixth location due to open in Islington in early 2019. Third Space employs 500 staff and is led by an experienced management team committed to executing a high-paced expansion plan. The Wood Wharf deal is in line with management’s ambitious growth strategy, which will see the company invest £50 million over five years with the aim of opening a new club every 12 to 18 months.
    Instagram: @thirdspacelondon

    Raising the Bar

    Pankaj Patel, of Patel Taylor, is an award-winning architect whose vast portfolio includes projects ranging in size from city planning to private residences and “everything in between”. At Wood Wharf, he has designed two residential blocks, a community sports hall, a primary school and a health centre. For him, it wasn’t just about giving people somewhere affordable to live, it was about building a community.

    When we took on this project, we weren’t interested in just building homes. We wanted to build a community. We wanted to create a hub, that everyone could enjoy. And I don’t just mean the affordable housing community. I mean the whole community at Wood Wharf.

    But how do you build a community? The simple answer is outdoor space. It must be rich in nature as well as amenities. In other words, it’s about giving people the feeling of being connected to the area.

    So, we designed the buildings around a large open space through which people can walk, linger and enjoy. It must be a place where they can read a book or go jogging, walk their dog, do tai chi, play frisbee or lay down jumpers for goalposts. Then they might be able to sit down outside a café or a nice bar and people watch, like you do when you go on holiday. These are the things that turn a space into a community: the good things in life.

    But a community is not a community if it isn’t sustainable. It has to last. And I always say there are two things a development must sustain if its community is to last: your spirit and your comfort. It needs to be rich in character, offer views of, say, a lovely square, garden, water frontage, nice trees or of any of the other things that make London brilliant. Then it’s about having a nice entrance, a nice staircase where you can chat to neighbours. It mustn’t have long corridors so you feel like you’re in a hotel. And it must have good insulation so you don’t have to listen to noisy neighbours.

    You see, London has long had a problem with affordable housing. London grew up through the Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian eras. Then came the war and the bomb damage. So, in the 1960s, they decided to clear huge sites and build affordable housing schemes.

    It started so well. Before, people had been living in tiny streets with toilets outside and so on. So the vision these architects had was to stack them up, add a lift, create a big green space for the kids to run around on and for people to enjoy. For the first time, poor people had cleaner air and fantastic views of London.

    The problem, though, was the fact that the rest of London looked completely different. So the estates stuck out like sore thumbs. They became spaces at which Londoners could point and say, “That’s where the poor people live.” They weren’t integrated with the rest of the city. It became a case of “us and them”. And separation breeds social anxiety and division.

    The second problem was safety. Inside the estates, the open spaces were not well-lit. And, because there was usually only one road in and out of these housing estates, youngsters would race cars or cause trouble. Everywhere were lockup garages, tunnels and alleys that people could hide in.

    In other words, it was all very well going up in the air, but it left little consideration for how people actually live and behave in a city, especially if you put them in a dark space.

    That’s why, at Wood Wharf, we’ve lined the development with uses – retail plots, a school, a leisure centre. Crucially, when you walk around, you won’t be able to tell what’s affordable and what’s private. All flats will look the same, with the affordable and private flats enmeshed together.

    We want every single resident, be they in private or affordable, to feel part of the wider community. We don’t want micro-communities, with the affordable housing squeezed out to the edge.

    In fact, the main block will be the first of its kind in London. There isn’t a building in the capital that has retail, a school, a health centre, a leisure centre and mixed-use residential all in one. That’s never been done before. And I’m very excited to see how people respond.

    Affordable and sustainable housing is not the sexiest discipline in architecture. But that’s not why we do it. It’s not about me, my ego or about the form or scale of the building. It is about the vibrant uses that this building will sustain in the community.

    You see, once our job is done, we pass the baton on. Then, it’s up to the residents to sustain it, to develop the community and thrive in it.

    The best compliment an architect can receive is not an award or a great review. Although those are always nice. No, it’s when someone says, “I want to live here.” It’s when people move into the home you’ve created and flourish in it. I hope Wood Wharf will become a magnet for people from all over the area for generations to come. That, for me, is what’s really exciting about my job.

    Interview by Matt Blake

    Twitter @mattblakeuk

    Connecting the Capital

    Crossrail Place – the first building for London’s new east-west railway to open – is a momentous architectural achievement. Designed by Foster+Partners, the enormous, seven storey, ship-like building includes more than 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 45,000 square feet of green space. Four storeys are submerged under water. Nestled in between Canary Wharf and Wood Wharf, it will also be the primary transport hub connecting Wood Wharf to the outside world. Ben Scott, partner in-charge, is the brains behind the project.

    Crossrail Place is a very striking structure, what was your inspiration?
    Providing a warm, natural counterpoint to the existing architecture of Canary Wharf, the wooden structure evokes the ships that once sailed into West India Dock. And the enclosed garden is a nod to the Wardian case – a type of timber and glass container used to transport plants to the UK in the 19th century. The ETFE ‘air cushions’ form a canopy to create a comfortable environment, as well as providing a favourable microclimate for some of the plants, which include some of the species that first entered Britain through the historic docks.

    What are the challenges of building in or by water?
    The building is situated on an incredibly tight site within the waters of the North Dock in Canary Wharf. The construction process was a considerable challenge. The flood capacity of the dock that would have ordinarily been reduced by locating the building within the waters, was kept constant by creating a stepped water feature alongside the building to absorb the displaced volume of water. Another innovative design feature was to use the dredged soil from the excavation in the docks to help protect the structure against the impact of a vessel – a submerged sloped surface was created that means a boat or ship will run aground before it hits the structure.

    What do you have to consider when designing green space within a structure?
    The immersive rooftop garden at its heart offers London a new vision of urbanscape where nature and urban context complement each other – the organic, natural forms of the planting are juxtaposed against the geometric canopy of engineered timber. Integrating the lush garden into the structure required careful technical design as the weight of the soil and plants, the irrigation, waterproofing and drainage all had to be carefully considered and integrated into the overall design. The partially open roof enables some natural irrigation and ventilation, while also providing sheltered spaces for local workers and residents to enjoy year-round.

    Norman Foster has said we are “not as good at big thinking and infrastructure as our Asian counterparts now [but] the Elizabeth Line is one of those magnificent exceptions.” What did he mean by that?
    When we were working on the Beijing International Airport – the world’s largest terminal at the time – we delivered the entire building from scratch in just four years. In Hong Kong, a mountainous island was razed completely to create the site for the International Airport. The Elizabeth Line echoes this kind of bold infrastructural vision, connecting London from west to east with a series of high-quality stations that will become magnets for people. The arrival of the Elizabeth Line will support the expansion programme of the Canary Wharf estate and the surrounding area, drawing visitors to use the public facilities and garden and creating a welcoming civic gateway to London’s growing district at Wood Wharf and its surrounding area.

    Interview by Matt Blake

    Twitter @mattblakeuk

    Innovation at the core – Why location is everything when growing a business

    Head of Level39 Ben Brabyn is an enthusiastic student of network science; the study of complex networks and the connections among them. Ben’s passion serves him well in his role leading Level39 in supporting more than 200 tech companies in achieving fast growth and scale. Network science, Ben believes, is crucial to the process, with success dependent on access to customers, talent and infrastructure, expert mentors, and a dynamic workspace. Five years after launching the organisation, wholly owned by Canary Wharf Group, Level39 has expanded to occupy 80,000 square feet.

    Location, Brabyn believes, is everything, especially when it comes to growing young businesses.

    “For us, it’s about creating conditions in which everyone has the shortest critical path to the resources they need. That means access to customers, investors, technological expertise, leadership expertise and all of this wrapped in the most flexible, the most agile, real estate proposition. We measure success by the productivity gains for our tenants or members. The way we do that is by bringing them as close as possible to the best of all those things and providing them with the physical space to grow from startup to scaleup business to global enterprise.”

    Members require state-of-the-art infrastructure, and flexibility, but Brabyn says Level39’s tenants have come to expect far more than the usual bells and whistles startup offices provide, with software bringing as much value as hardware.

    “What we’re all about is creating an environment where highly ambitious people from all over the world come together to solve economically significant problems because you’re surrounded by people and organisations with global access, big budgets and big challenges. Those things go much deeper than a great coffee machine or canteen.”

    The mixed residential community at Wood Wharf will also play a role, as a number of Level39’s companies are focused on financial inclusion, which means that a population made up of different socio-economic levels is like having a test market in your back garden. But Brabyn envisions community integration reaching beyond that of a customer base.

    “One of the things we’re looking at is distributing the value our members create to a wider group of people. In other words, Level39 seeks to be a beacon, not only of ambition but also accessibility and inclusion. Innovation represents the great golden thread of our history as well as opportunities for the future. Just as Canary Wharf has reinvented itself from one of the great trading centres of London, to one of the most international commercial centres, it is transforming Wood Wharf into an environment set to foster innovation and growth on a large, inclusive scale.”

    Interview by Amy Guttman

    Twitter @AmyGuttman1


    Shaping the Future

    What was your approach to the masterplan of Wood Wharf?
    We set out to understand the context – the levels and the amazing waterscape, the old docks and water systems. Wood Wharf is unlike two other projects we masterplanned: the 2012 Olympic park and King’s Cross. Both of those projects had a job to do that was to integrate into an existing urban fabric and make repairs to the city. Wood Wharf is very different because it’s effectively an island connected to Canary Wharf by an isthmus or bridge. So because integration into an existing city structure was not a necessary aim, it allowed a series of freedoms. Here, the context is the urban scale of Canary Wharf and the sheer drama of the waterways surrounding Wood Wharf.

    In particular, we wanted to avoid a pompous gesture as a sort of diagrammatic answer to the site’s context, economy and masterplan. The best cities are not made of gestures, but buildings that work together and are workable in themselves.

    What are the anchors of the masterplan?
    There are three parts: a connector, a perimeter or edge adjacent to the water and then the body of the masterplan itself. The connector is straightforward – that is to join Wood Wharf with Canary Wharf. The first buildings act as a prelude or overture, announcing the kind of place you’re coming to. They reveal something of what is to happen – both in terms of scale and street pattern and structure.

    How similar was the process to designing a small city?
    It’s similar in that the body of the masterplan is built around the notion of placemaking but not in a picturesque sense – in a way that achieves an understandable legibility that once you’re in the place you know what the most important streets are, what the destinations are and how the place works – exactly as you would within an existing city. So it’s very important that the street patterns and the buildings signal, talk, and reveal the sense of place that you’re expecting to come next, just like walking around other parts of London.

    How did you design for the future?
    There needs to be certainty in terms of a street layout, but with the buildings, flexibility to change your mind in order to respond to the market with the kinds of buildings they may choose to build. For example, if you can produce a building that is say 45–50m wide by 36–40m deep, it will accommodate most uses. We might do a design for an office and a design for residential to test that and ensure the space is appropriate for both. We tend to produce buildings with spaces that are easy to use – lots of rectangles. You make those rectangles special with the surfacing, depths, layers and elevational hierarchies. Old warehouses, in particular, are incredibly flexible buildings – you can use them for schools, hospitals, homes… they’re very simple, but versatile.

    We then looked for common denominators that could accommodate easily developable buildings without compromising the street pattern and indeed, the thing we value highly – the space between buildings – which is, in the end, what makes a city. Those spaces are the parks, squares, recreational areas, gathering places, promenades, the walks, the shortcuts – all the things that make a city, but are invisible in a grand plan.

    How did you maximise the surrounding waterways?
    Wood Wharf is made up of a series of major buildings – the main generators of activity. Unusually the buildings get taller towards the edge, because they’re near the water. Often, masterplans are more of a pie shape, with the taller buildings in the centre. In this case, it’s almost the reverse: lower in the middle and higher at the edge, to deliberately exploit the views seen from a long distance because of the wide horizon of the waterscape. This produces a composition of buildings along the water’s edge that will be beautiful in itself.


    Allies and Morrison

    Interview by Amy Guttman

    Twitter @AmyGuttman1


    The Life of an “Islander”

    George Pye, 83, has lived on the Isle of Dogs his entire life. He is, in fact, a fifth generation “islander” and third generation stevedore, or dockworker, having worked at the Millwall & West India Docks since 1960. In short, few people alive know the area and its community better than he does.

    The London Docklands run through my blood. Though us locals call it “The Island”. I was born there in 1935, and basically haven’t left since, apart from two enforced absences. One during the Blitz, when I was evacuated to Bristol, and then for two years of national service in 1954.

    My father was a stevedore, as was his father before him. So I couldn’t wait to go into the “family business” from the moment I understood what it was. I guess I bought into the hype in the papers at the time that you could make a fortune. This, it turned out, was not the case. But though it may not have made me rich in pocket, I feel very rich in experience.

    “We can handle anything at the London dock… including elephants.” That was the Millwall & West India Docks’ slogan. Though, as far as I know, we only ever unloaded one elephant, back in the 1930s. She was hoisted off the boat by crane in a canvas hammock before being trucked off to London Zoo. That was a famous day – even the local paper covered it.

    The days would start early. All the stevedores would congregate outside the George Pub for the “call on”. That’s when the foremen would call out the names of the men they wanted to work for them that day. I can remember a lot of pushing and shoving when the good jobs came up. Fights were not uncommon. The rest of the day was then spent loading and unloading whatever the boats were bringing in or taking out that day.

    It was a very dirty, messy job most of the time. It was backbreaking, too. Depending on the day, you might be loading sugar, cement, paint, dye, beer, hemp, tea or any other commodity you can think of. Once, I even loaded a military-grade tank onto a boat. That was weird – I don’t remember Britain being at war with anyone in the 70s. But we did it.

    But nothing was dirtier, or messier than when the ships carrying seagull poo came in. I never understood why they collected so much of it. I later learned it was for fertiliser, from the islands of the Indian Ocean. And apparently, it was very expensive. They called it Guano. Though to us is was just muck. The worst thing about it: after a long day of bagging and loading bird poo, there was no way you could take the bus home. You had to walk, no matter how far that was. The stink was too embarrassing.

    If I could describe island life in one word, it would be “family”. Everyone knew everyone. And we looked after each other. That’s not to say there weren’t arguments. Once, I remember one of the crews got into a row with the governor about overtime. They wanted it, and he said the boat was leaving at 5pm whether it was finished or not. So, to get their own back, they found his Mercedes in the car park, picked it up with a forklift, and loaded it on the boat. By the time the boss came out at 5.45pm, the car was well on its way to Norway. He was not happy. It took him three weeks to get it back.

    I used to say that to survive on the Island, you had to be either an athlete or a boxer. I mean, if you started gossiping about someone or their family, you can bet your life that someone in the queue knew the person you were talking about. And it always got back to them. The world isn’t like that now.

    You can’t talk about the Island’s community without mentioning the annual Agricultural Festival. It was a celebration of the unique culture of island life. It was organised by the people and for the people. And like many good things, it was never without a few beers.

    Its highlight was the “Pram Race”. Don’t be fooled: it was more of a pub crawl than a race. The rules were simple: one person pushes a friend or spouse in a pram from the City Pride to The George, via roughly 24 pubs on the route. In each, the men had to drink half a pint and the women a soft drink. As you can imagine, a lot of pairs never finished. In the early 80s, I even won. But that was mainly because my wife’s friend was the “driver”, so to speak, and I was the “baby”.

    This year (2018) will be my 65th year doing youth and community on the island. We might not be planners, but we know what works and we know what the community wants. Fortunately, I think we are being heard. And I hope anyone who moves to the island has as good a time in future as I’ve had in the past… and am having right now for that matter.

    Interview by Matt Blake

    Twitter @mattblakeuk

    Can a building help you live longer?

    The working environment has, over recent years, become more important and relevant. Having evolved rapidly, it has become part of the job hunt process – the conditions people work in play a key part in their everyday lives and it must reflect their needs to not only retain talent, but to provide a healthier working life.

    It is about creating somewhere where people enjoy going to work, leading to higher productivity levels and in turn making us happier and healthier. In a world that is increasingly health conscious, it makes sense that this is a number one priority for property developers, designers and business owners to dedicate their resources to creating the right spaces for their audience.

    A vibrant, open and naturally lit building that encapsulates the needs of its tenants, will most certainly create an atmosphere that will positively affect our wellbeing and help us live longer.

    Charlie Green is Co-CEO of The Office Group, a provider of offices, meeting rooms and co-working spaces.

    TOG have leased 3 floors of 15 Water Street, designed by Allies and Morrison.

    Work Life – Getting the balance right

    The next time you check your emails, read a tweet, or sit through that Monday-morning planning meeting at work, consider this: through the course of a single day, you devour more information than a man in the Middle Ages would have consumed across his entire lifetime. This is not fake news; this is cold, hard science. In 2011, researchers at the University of Southern California found that the average human mind processes 175 newspapers-worth of information every single day. In 1986, that figure was 40. Today, it is certainly more… and that’s before you even shut down your computer.

    The modern workplace has become a phantasmagoria of facts, figures, demands and deadlines, all shooting around our neural pathways like rush-hour traffic on the M25. It is constantly evolving. Uninterrupted access to email means work never stops; we have an app for everything from banking to newspapers, to-do lists to dating. All day, we are pushed and pulled from place to place – a presentation here, a coffee catch-up there, a brainstorm in the breakout room. Then there are the hundreds of decisions we make every day, from how to reply to an email to which sandwich to buy at lunch. To put it another way, the human brain has never been so busy.

    But what if we told you that a workplace revolution is sweeping quietly across London?

    This isn’t the blue-sky fantasy of a Silicon-Valley billionaire. It’s happening now. And, according to scientists, the benefits are unignorable, for staff and for business. “The single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce,” Shawn Achor – happiness guru and author of international bestsellers The Happiness Advantage and Big Potential – wrote in 2011. “A decade of research proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements.”

    His claims are backed – if a little more modestly – by research from the University of Warwick, who found that happy employees are 12% more productive than unhappy ones. “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality,” said one of the report’s authors, Dr. Daniel Sgroi. So, how can an office make you happy? There are many environmental factors that affect how we feel about the place we work. Things like lighting, noise, air quality and office layout. Cultural factors play a big part, too, and they’re often mashed into our physical surroundings. An office that provides a thoughtfully-designed breakout room or a charming café, for instance, is likely to foster a collaborative culture (good for business!) where staff feel valued as human beings (good for staff!).

    Then there is the way we pass through our places of work. Open stairwells, glass walls or open-plans can turn an office from a space of shadows and solitude to one of chance interactions and ideas. “It’s that quick chat we have with a colleague on the way up to the office that might just be the most valuable part of our day,” explains acclaimed architect Fred Pilbrow, whose latest project, The Market Building, sits at the heart of Wood Wharf.

    It’s not just the office space that experts say should soothe our souls for a happy work/life balance. Many of London’s newest workspaces are being built on or near an array of amenities.

    Food markets are one, offering workers the chance to ditch the meal deal “desk-lunch” for a bounty of sweet and savoury and everything else in between. Also, they are a place to take a break from the office, meet friends or colleagues or simply repair to the open air for a midmorning stroll.

    Talking of strolls, with around eight million trees in 3,000 parks, three million gardens and two National Nature Reserves, London is one of the most verdant cities on earth. Overall, 47% of London is green space, and 60% is classified as open space. This pays off: scientists have long proved that nature can provide stress relief, increase social interaction, encourage physical exercise and even help soothe mental illness. Then there’s the water. A canal, a pond, even a fountain – it doesn’t matter. The faintest tinkle of water can cheer you That’s according to the UK’s Blue Gym project that found people who live or work in sight of water are calmer, happier and healthier.

    There is, of course, one core element without which any of this works: to achieve a true work/life balance, you have to have a life. Shops, bars and restaurants within walking distance of the office are becoming a staple of the modern office set up. “Socialising with your co-workers is essential for your career,” Alexander Kjerulf, another happiness guru and bestselling author, told Forbes Magazine in 2013. “If you’re not able to relate to your co-workers as human beings and build positive relationships, your career will suffer. Socialising and getting to know them as people will help you to communicate better, trust each other more and work better together.”

    All this, he notes, points to one simple fact: good workplace relationships are one of the most important sources of workplace happiness. And while those may be initiated beside water coolers or exiting end-of-quarter meetings, they are nourished over drinks and food, walks along the riverfront or a mooch around the shops. They foster empathy, group worth, collaboration.

    So productivity at its best is not about working longer hours, sacrificing lunch breaks, or checking emails on iPhones over dinner or in bed. It is about cutting through the clutter, being smarter with our time, and happier with our lives. Places like Wood Wharf and others sprouting around the capital beg the question: why design a place where people have to work, when you can design one where people want to work?


    Interview by Matt Blake


    Affordable Luxury

    Ben Russell, Chief Development Officer of Ennismorediscusses their vision to challenge the budget hotel industry and why Wood Wharf is the perfect location to do it.

    The words affordable and luxury are uttered so frequently these days, it’s difficult to imagine a time when the two would have been seen as mutually exclusive. Businesses across several sectors are embracing the notion, promising aspirational experiences at pragmatic price points. Ennismore, the company behind The Hoxton Hotel and Gleneagles, is reimagining the budget hotel concept with a new offering: NoCo, set to launch at Wood Wharf.

    Ben Russell, Ennismore’s Chief Development Officer, explains that the location in an area ready for a revival matches the company’s footprint with The Hoxton.

    “We love to be part of the regeneration of an area, just like when we opened the Hoxton in Shoreditch while it was undergoing its transformation. We want to be ingrained in the fabric. That’s why Wood Wharf is a perfect platform for us to launch.”

    With NoCo, Ennismore will take all of its successes with The Hoxton and create a similar proposition, but with a greater affordability, catering to creative, progressive and innovative businesses at a younger point in their mindset. The hotel will serve the neighbourhood through its public spaces and cultural programme.

    NoCo will also experiment with a new concept in the UK, sharing a central space with third party operators which include a co-work office and gym. The idea is to create seamless multi-purpose spaces that enhance each, individually and as a whole, for workers, residents and guests at Wood Wharf.

    Besides a beautiful lobby and great WiFi, NoCo will establish partnerships across the estate, including retail outlets. While hotel lobbies have become more like remote work spaces, the intention, Russell says, is for laptops to shut come 6pm transforming the environment into something more social.

    NoCo intends to disrupt the budget hotel model, delivering good design, and quality essentials. Russell believes blending aesthetics with tech is the best way to meet consumer demand for form and function.

    “NoCo is going to be stripped back. We’re just providing the beautiful essentials; nothing travellers don’t need. But we’re appealing to those who want more than just a generic experience. Rich fabrics and great lighting can create a beautiful product. State-of-the-art technology that’s app-driven can deliver a seamless guest journey from booking to check-in.”

    The emphasis on everything you need, nothing you don’t, doesn’t mean NoCo will scrimp on the basics. Russell explains rooms will be furnished with high quality beds, but no TV’s on the walls. One consideration is an in-room projector for guests to connect devices. Rather than room service, an app will allow guests to pre-order meals at an on-site restaurant.

    Unlike competitors hoping to exclusively cultivate well travelled millennials as clientele, Russell says NoCo is targeting a wider demographic. “We think a great experience shouldn’t be limited or exclusive. Good ideas should be broad, not select.”

    Russell has big dreams for NoCo. He envisions NoCo not only at Wood Wharf but in other cities, with hopes of disrupting a market saturated
    with blandness.

    “We don’t understand why this can’t be applied across every aspect of the hospitality sector. We want to be more than just a bed. We want to challenge this.”

    NoCo have leased
    7 floors of 15 Water
    Street, designed by
    Allies and Morrison.


    Interview by Amy Guttman
    Twitter @AmyGuttman1

    Re-inventing the Docklands

    Allies and Morrison discuss the challenges of re-working an industrial past for the tenants of the future.

    Architect Jason Syrett of Allies and Morrison, the same practice tasked with the Wood Wharf masterplan, took cues from the site’s history as a thriving, working dock to inspire his vision for 
15 and 20 Water Street. The two buildings are, in many ways important within the masterplan, as they announce the intention and set the scene for the 
Wood Wharf community. Syrett describes the two buildings as gatehouses as they’re the first two buildings perceived when crossing the bridge from Canary Wharf. With that in mind, Allies and Morrison used materials to reflect the shift in character and feeling, while also connecting past with present.

    “This was once a bustling dockside community with people loading and off loading onto ships and railways. The modern working environment has moved away from that industrial scale to a new industry where technological skills and creative design, engineering and even creative financial services are the new engines of London.”

    In order to achieve the transition, these new buildings employ brick and masonry materials, as well as colour. The silver and grey of Canary Wharf is traded for palette-warming red brick and warehouse-like spaces with a slightly industrial feel which are designed to attract a mixed community of businesses integrated with residential and retail space.

    On a practical basis, that translates to smaller floor plates with a flexible open plan environment to accommodate smaller scaling businesses that may take only one floor or part of one floor, rather than big trading floors and multi level offices.

    “20 Water Street is designed for denser occupation than the traditional Canary Wharf office towers, with more ventilation, data, and power. 
It really represents the way people 
work nowadays.”

    But, that intensity demands balance, which is why the team at Allies and Morrison has used balconies and roof gardens on each of the buildings to provide breakout and connect the buildings at many levels to outside spaces. With shops at the ground floor, balconies and roof terraces, Allies and Morrison’s goal was to unite the office space with the wider environment. The development’s engagement with the waterscape keeps the surroundings and the history of Wood Wharf relevant.

    “Across the masterplan, we worked to keep people engaged with the water edge, rather than raised above it, to connect them with the docks.

    Allowing the buildings to face the water, building them with materials that feel significant and providing for houseboat moorings are all things that enhance rather than take away from the waterscape. The other thing is the way in which we name and brand the place, the parks, the streets to connect the history. These things help evoke memories.”

    While Syrett’s design respects the past, his approach focuses on flexibility for a series of future scenarios, making use of interchangeable core components, such as toilets that can be added or removed, as well as flexible structure and services that allow the occupiers to create larger or smaller spaces and allowing for mixed use buildings or potential conversions of office space into hotel or even residential use.

    “Whether everyone will be working on their laptops, tablets, or VR devices in cafés in the future, we don’t know, but we’re trying to evolve a piece of city for them to come together. 15 Water Street is a really good example of that synergy – the hotel, health club, and the co-work space. Hotels and offices sharing the same lobby is very unusual, but many hotel lobbies feel like co-work spaces or offices and vice versa. So we have tried to future proof the buildings by allowing for flexibility in the way spaces are used.”

    For Syrett, the best way to honour and preserve history is through people, blending the edges of Canary Wharf into the remaining community of those who used to live and work on the island.

    “If you talk to people in the area, many of their family histories go back to working on the docks. We can communicate that through artwork and street names and integrating affordable housing. We can create a place that links the past to the present and shapes a future that’s inclusive with things like small businesses run by local people, say, a bagel shop or coffee house to serve startups. Invite them in with affordable rents and support the little guys to help feed the big guys.”


    Interview by Amy Guttman
    Twitter @AmyGuttman1

    Scaling Up


    London is the home of scaleups. Business creation is essential for building an ambitious and innovative economy, but this is just one piece of the picture. I have been campaigning for London to widen its gaze and focus on ‘scaleups’, in order to secure significant growth in jobs, taxes and wealth, and the competitive advantage of Britain for generations to come.

    By turning our attention to company growth, we can spotlight the actions, as a society, needed to make London the best ‘Scaleup City’ in the world. There are enormous benefits to be realised by increasing the proportion of scaleup companies across the business landscape, these determined entrepreneurs sponsor economic prosperity and boost productivity throughout the capital and across Britain.

    We have identified a huge opportunity to be taken: a one per cent boost to our scaleup population would bring about an additional 238,000 jobs and £225bn in Gross Value Added (GVA).

    Wood Wharf will become the largest home to scaleups in the city – a new piece of London that will house at least 200 scaleups.

    I firmly believe that the key to economic growth is the ability for scaleups to develop locally, with data providing critical evidence for identifying and verifying fast growing companies and helping to facilitate further expansion of their innovative businesses.

    The need for the whole ecosystem of stakeholders to collaborate to improve their local environments so that a greater proportion of companies make the leap from ‘small to large’ is essential. The responsibility to become a ‘Scaleup Nation’ rests with all of us.

    There can be no doubt that London has the talent, capital and infrastructure to foster the next generation of fast growth businesses. The priority must now be, to take on the challenges that startups face in making the next big leap forwards. London is the destination for scaleups, that message has to be made loud and clear, it is vital that we dedicate the resources to transforming the earliest stage ventures to the UK’s biggest businesses.

    It could not be clearer that we cannot rest on our laurels. Many countries and regions globally have already turned their attention to scaleups as a means of economic growth. If the UK does not align priorities effectively to the fastest growing businesses, we run the risk of falling behind.

    The ScaleUp Institute’s 2017 survey showed that while scaleup business leaders remain upbeat about their growth and export plans, they felt that the UK would become a harder place in which to grow a business. We cannot allow this to happen. We must act now to achieve long- term, sustainable results.

    Competitive advantage doesn’t go to the nations that focus on creating companies, it goes to nations that focus on scaling companies.

    Sherry Coutu CBE is a
    serial entrepreneur and
    angel investor who chairs
    The ScaleUp Institute along with sitting on the boards
    of companies, charities
    and universities.

    Children of the City

    Open City and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris come together to encourage young minds to explore the needs of their local community.

    Children are fascinated by the outdoor environment. Yet many children living in built up centres do not have gardens or any direct access to outdoor spaces. Open City asked children from Manorfield Primary school in Tower Hamlets to reimagine and realise a pocket of their neighbourhood where people can meet, learn, socialise, communicate and relax.

    The children explored the area, drawing maps of existing features such as mounds, trees, pathways and surrounding buildings.  They then adapted their initial sketches, developing their designs for their new and imagined space.

    They wanted to ensure that there were sensory areas for the elderly where plants of various kinds stimulated the senses, however their plans were mainly dominated with a need to create an exciting play space which children of all ages could come together and explore.

    As the theme of the project was sustainability, only recycled and reused items were used to construct the models. Children were split into small groups of three where they had to interpret the design and decide as a group on the appropriate materials to use for their models construction.

    All of the shared models were brought together into one classroom where the children helped to create a large scale ‘Shared City’. This allowed the children opportunity to admire and study one another’s work and, also see what their shared city environment looked like on a large scale.




    Ewan Jones and Chris Patience of global architecture practice Grimshaw have been tasked with transforming One Brannan Street, the only triangular site at Wood Wharf, into a dynamic space for offices and retail. The team have utilised the wide-spanning views as a not-so-secret weapon.

    How challenging is it to design for a triangular shape?

    All the conventional bits of a building are rectangular, so the challenge was how to be efficient in our design without any bits left over. The practical things were challenging; there were about 100 core layout iterations. You have to think about every level at once. It also wasn’t an equilateral triangle. That means the balconies in each corner are slightly different, but that ultimately adds to the character. And, the location benefits greatly from its position at the edge of the Blackwall Basin, resulting in a spectacular triangle that makes the site very special.

    What did you hope to achieve with One Brannan Street?

    Part of our goal was to make sure the building is visible from multiple viewpoints. The corners of the building were therefore designed to act as striking visual markers that respond to sight-lines through the masterplan. Corners become less useful as office space as they get narrower so we’ve exploited those spaces to be social or meeting places on almost every floor in the form of balconies and winter gardens. There is also a series of roof terraces accessible to tenants.

    With this building, it’s less of a single statement we’re trying to make, and more about offering glimpses from different vantage points. The projecting winter gardens and balconies are designed to draw pedestrians towards the building, and onto the waterfront and retail area under Carter Circle.

    How did you maximise the landscape?

    There’s a change in level around the site, which means we’ve essentially got two ground floor levels. It forced us to think about how to make the best use of that. We turned things around to serve dual purposes. We moved the loading bay to the other side of the building where there’s better access to a road in a place with less foot traffic. More importantly, relocating the loading bay preserves the area around the edges of the basin as retail and café spaces, strengthening
    the connection between pedestrians
    and the water.

    One Brannan Street is one of few places in the development with such a wide-reaching view. We’ve taken advantage of this by designing large, open plan spaces with a picture window looking out over the basin.

    How have you maintained the history while forging a sense of identity for the building?

    We use the essential components of a building to create its character. For One Brannan Street, the triangle theme is very strong; the building footprint, winter gardens and other elements share the triangular motif.

    The forms of the winter gardens are also consistent with the historic cranes of Wood Wharf, enhancing the identity of the dockside by creating a visual memory of the activities that once took place there.

    We’ve tested the building with an exposed ceiling, which provides better sense of volume and more of a warehouse feel, reminiscent to the historic wharves and industry of the area.

    It was important to us to ensure the basin was visible, so everyone who enters the building sees a view of the water to keep people connected to it.


    Interview by Amy Guttman
    Twitter @AmyGuttman1

    Kick start your day the Wood Wharf way



    1 large ripe avocado

    1 kiwi fruit

    1 small banana

    20g fresh spinach leaves

    300ml soya milk

    2 tsp honey

    1 lime



    1. Cut the avocado in half – remove the stone and scoop
      out the flesh
    2. Peel and chop the kiwi
      and banana
    3. Put all the fruit into a liquidiser along with the honey, soya milk, spinach leaves and lime juice
    4. Blend until smooth and serve



    Masters of retail space

    It may seem ironic to select someone that loathes shopping to design a retail masterplan, but Glenn Howells, of the eponymously named architecture firm, says it led to a more thoughtful approach to the mechanics, both overt and subtle, of attracting shoppers and non-shoppers, alike.

    What inspired the layout of the retail masterplan?

    In order to make it more interesting and varied, we wanted to focus on more independent offerings. Independents, by nature, need smaller spaces, so we looked at making the masterplan more granular, which meant making the streets smaller, too. Instead of wide boulevards, like Oxford Street, it’s more like Carnaby Street, or Seven Dials. We’ve reduced the scale of the place making streets more narrow and intimate.

    How have you made the area visually compelling?

    We’ve planned a richer market-style atmosphere to contrast with the office space. There’s something about smaller scale places that means you can be a bit more imaginative and experimental, building a sense of wonder and discovery. Personally, I tend to gravitate towards areas with markets or interesting ranges. I tend not to go to the 5th Avenues of the world, so I tried to apply ways that I would find a shopping area appealing.

    Take us behind the scenes to understand what goes into the actual design process.

    It’s working closely with the wider team, including commercial advisors in retail, who’ve got an idea of which occupiers could be tempted to be tenants. It’s really important to test the light to differentiate which areas people will move through and which are dwell spaces, which are typically resting spaces where people will rush to get a seat and want to hang out and that’s usually timed with afternoon and early evening sunshine. That’s where you place the bars and restaurants, benches and play tables.

    We use devices, such as low level planting which provide a bit of separation between people sitting trying to have a meal and the walkway. That’s how we create shelter and defensible space. There’s quite a fine-grained level of design which isn’t about buildings at all, but about things like street surfaces – which surfacing is most comfortable to walk on, and street furniture and signage, the way you allow retailers to brand. A lot of thought goes into the height of the shop fronts, like how big the signs should be so that you can see them from a certain distance.

    What have you employed to promote a sense of community within retail?

    Retail doesn’t work as well if you’ve got an endless strip of shop fronts. So what we sought to do is ensure it’s never very long before you have to make turns. Those bends in the road serve two purposes: they create an element of surprise and also stop the experience being exhausting with too much to take in. There will be benches and café’s strategically placed to allow for shopping breaks. Encouraging people to linger makes it less about transactions, where people buy what they need and leave, and more about community.

    Keeping the retail at ground level also sets the foundation for an active, engaged atmosphere. The estate feels livelier if workers and residents can see a bustling environment out of their windows.

    Retail has to be stimulating and rewarding. The way you achieve that is through a rich mix of restaurants, bars, showrooms, even performance space and a programme of changing things to make it a place where people want to keep coming back. Some retail will work, some won’t. Some shops will need investment through incentives like rent-free periods, but they contribute a sense of place and through that sense of place, you create community.

    Interview by Amy Guttman
    Twitter @AmyGuttman1

    When size matters : How small buildings shape our cities for good

    Simon Allford, co-founder and director of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, discusses the buildings of the future.

    There is an office building in Florence that 700 years after opening still serves as inspiration for what a building can do for a city. Originally conceived as home to the Medici Court, it was the place where the prominent family lived, worked and ruled.

    Standing just thirty metres high, its profile far outgrew its physical size and it became a modern precursor of a low-rise building that packs a punch – as well as an emblematic image of what Florence stood for in the minds of millions.

    It served a number of purposes: living quarters, a centre of administration, ceremonial palace and world-famous museum and much more over its impressive lifespan. Not just an example of how Renaissance builders created multi-purpose spaces, but also an effective rebuttal to the argument that building high is the only way to attain density and legacy in a crowded urban space.

    Buildings have an inherent influence over the way people live and work in a city. In the world’s biggest cities – London among them – buildings are increasingly looked to as the way to deliver commercial growth and attract the very best people. Interestingly, low-rise buildings are fast becoming the way to do both.


    Low Rise, High Ambition

    Buildings must serve those who use them. Every commercial one needs to offer people more than just being trapped at a desk for the nine-to-five routine. Instead, they should inspire creativity and teamwork in the workplace. Every residential one should be built in ways that encourage mixed communities and are environmentally friendly.

    Buildings – small and large – create and contribute to communities by having a sense of openness and connection with the neighbourhood. An attractive way to achieve that is by having mixed-use and low-rise buildings that facilitate chance encounters between the buildings’ users and visitors, and shared communal
    facilities like restaurants, bars, gardens and crèches.

    Teams working in a low-rise are much more likely to interact with the outside world during the day, encouraging them to get fresh air, break out of the corporate bubble and feel like they’re are part of the social fabric that exists outside their office door.

    Meanwhile, for residential buildings, the zeitgeist continues to move away from high-rise buildings as study after study proves the benefits of multi-use and low-rise buildings. These include: less financial risk for the client, greater use of the building over a day, week, season and year. And they tend to reject monocultures, creating the conditions for a diverse community, mirroring the makeup of any good, modern city.


    Precedents and Places

    This is a delicate moment in time for the future of London’s residential and commercial spaces. A juncture that is not helped by the polarising opinions of policy makers and pressure groups alike, who tend to sit on one end or the other of the spectrum when it comes to the high versus low-rise debate.

    The key is to understand London’s big enough for both. There is a balance waiting to be struck where high-rise buildings can intermingle with low-rise; multi-purpose spaces can fit in nicely next to strictly commercial spaces – all in the name of securing a bright future for all Londoners.

    Thankfully, there is a precedent for the UK keeping a steady head on the matter of changing how we interact with residential and commercial spaces to suit our needs.

    I think of Britain’s 19th century industrial leaders lounging at White’s Club discussing business strategies over libations and how it bears a resemblance to present day co-working spaces, furnished with ping pong tables and open bars where conversations really get going.


    Make an Impression

    There are, naturally, challenges that arise with both. In a small building the challenge is to ensure that the connecting circulation spaces are large enough to encourage connections and conversations and not too large to overwhelm them. Whereas in a tall building the challenge is to resist Louis Sullivan’s description of a skyscraper as just “a whole lot of floors”, something that can be avoided by easily connected clusters all the way up the building.

    While each building is unique, other points to consider include: generosity of space, volume, and addressing the needs of the particular city. There is also the opportunity to innovate: think about the use of shadow and depth. Consider using an exoskeleton to pique interest. On the interior, push for an engaging promenade, an entrance that is inviting and inspiring – not just a way to get to the lift. At every stage, question whether the building is fit to become a living, working piece of the city.


    Plan and Perform

    Without problems there would be no great design, goes the adage. And when building in a city with the density of London, there is no shortage of problems and the creative solutions that they bring to life. The more attention paid to design means fewer mistakes will be made: after all, it’s wrong to assume a building can be too small to work out, and too big not to.

    In highly urbanised areas, planning is rightly complicated and if low-rise buildings continue to receive more attention and profile then London will be moving in the right direction. This should not come at the expense of very tall residential and commercial buildings, but rather be delivered in tandem with them.

    That’s how London’s architects, developers and buildings can shape the city for good.

    How do you design spaces for companies that don’t exist yet?

    Gone are the days when workplaces could go unchanged and expect to serve whomever worked in them. Instead they must be designed with liquid workforces in mind – they need to be able to move with them, change with them and develop alongside them.

    The future of dynamic organisations and shared facilities means both flexibility and affordability for companies, something not offered at the same scale in traditional set-ups. Remove the physical divisions and you encourage the sharing of best practice, ideas and even camaraderie between colleagues and people who work at different organisations.

    What surrounds us shapes and influences what we do and how well we do it. We need to create spaces that can evolve alongside businesses – places that connect and inspire people and are capable of keeping up with rapid change – only then we will create spaces fit for organisations of tomorrow, whatever they
    may look like.

    Jacqueline de Rojas
    is President of techUK,
    the trade association of tech companies in the UK.



    The building in public

    Fred Pilbrow, senior founding partner of  Pilbrow & Partners discusses his approach to designing a building as an extension of the public realm.

    You might think this ironic, but our main inspiration for The Market Building was a 160-year old cartoon. Sketched by the famous artist George Cruikshank in 1860, it is called the British Bee Hive – an illustration of British society through a vast range of professions depicted as cells in a giant bee hive. In the 19th century the bee was a popular symbol of industry and co-operation. And that’s exactly what we wanted The Market Building to be – a hive of activity where people of many different backgrounds and jobs live and work alongside each other. Only, this bee hive will befit the 21st century.

    The building itself, is like a casket. It has a very simple, flexible framework within which all manner of activities, like bees in a hive, are planned. And by keeping the casket very simple and flexible, it can accommodate a wide range of different uses, whether it’s office space, retail, a health club, or even a hotel.

    But what excited us most about this building, is the sense of its engagement with Union Square. That is to say, when it came to brainstorming ideas for a building as an extension of the public realm, a market hall felt like the archetypal public space.

    So we’ve put a very generous, flexible, grand retail area at the base of the building, which could be used for a food market with cafés and restaurants interspersed with market style stalls such as butchers or cheese and wine stalls.

    But what’s most exciting about this market space, is that it starts in this magnificent double-storey galleria beneath The Market Building, before unfurling seamlessly outside into Union Square. It’s as if the market has been invited inside. So that hive of activity is the first thing you see as you walk towards the building. And that, I hope, will inspire people to join in, to be a part of the Wood Wharf scene.

    That is the focal point. But its devotion to the public realm by no means ends there. As well as having great public space at the bottom, we are creating one at the top in the form of a two-storey rooftop restaurant, fringed by a broad terrace and protected by an oversailing roof. That roof has the impression of a lantern that I think will make it highly visible from afar. We thought it would be nice that the thing you see on Wood Wharf’s skyline is activity. You can actually go there, have a glass of wine, a meal, a meeting, or just take in the view. Isn’t that better than some shapely roof that’s no more than just a corporate hairstyle?

    Of all the buildings I’ve designed, The Market Building is one of my proudest. This is because, first, it talks to the particular site and brief that we were set – I think it does the job of providing a place that’s an extension of the public realm. But I think it also talks more generally to what the workplace of the future might be like.

    Workplaces are changing. And wellbeing is becoming as important as the work itself. But how do you encourage wellbeing through architecture? The stress must be put on the quality of the space. You want the building to support meetings, the exchange of ideas, not to mention the social dimension of work. People who want to live in a lively city, want a lively office.

    How best to do this? Simple: move the lifts. In most retail-office buildings, all the lifts and stairs go in the middle of the plan. We don’t like that. It squashes both the retail and office space around the edges, blocks natural light. The spaces become purely functional – you go to the lobby, get your lift, and go to the top floor. But by pushing the lifts and stairs to the north edge of the plan, we’ve opened up a wonderful space on the ground floor for retail. And on the upper floor it opened up the opportunity to create open, light filled and well-connected spaces for work. Plus, the stairs are glazed, opening them up to public view. So you’re kind of encouraged to take the stairs because you can see what it links. It feels convenient, and is a lot healthier to take the stairs. But the big one for us is that we’re trying to promote chance interaction. It’s that quick chat we have with a colleague on the way up to the office that might just be the most valuable part of our day.

    Beyond that, each floor has tall ceilings, the space is lofty, well proportioned, brilliantly lit. Every floor links to an outdoor terrace space, which feels like a really important part of the quality of environment. Then there are the social spaces on your doorstep, which we hope will function as a formal extension of the office space. You could have a meeting in the office, in a breakout area, or on the top floor restaurant sitting on a terrace having a glass of white wine. That’s an important part of the offer.

    I don’t like aggressive shape-making. By that I mean that good architecture – and more broadly, good cities – should be the background to the lives of the people who live in it. Now, that requires a degree of sobriety and reticence in the architecture, quietness even. But that doesn’t mean boring. We want our work to be really rich and layered and sophisticated. Plus, we want it to repay close scrutiny.

    Public spaces have to feel public. There can’t be any confusion; you need to know what’s public and what’s private. And there’s a liberty in that. You could wander round Smithfield Market and know where you are and where you stand, both literally and figuratively. You know you’re in a city and you understand how it works.

    I love wandering through London and just looking up at the buildings, seeing the kind of care with which they’ve been put together. For me, that is thrilling, and I want The Market Building to have that effect on people. It will be good architecture, and it will be very carefully put together. But more than that – more than anything else, really – I want it to reflect the lives of the people living and working in it.


    Interview by Matt Blake

    Twitter @mattblakeuk

    Topping out at Ten Park Drive

    Canary Wharf Group Achieves the Topping Out of Ten Park Drive

    Canary Wharf Group, one of London’s leading developers, has achieved a significant milestone with the topping out of Ten Park Drive, the first residential apartments the Group has built on the Canary Wharf estate. The building has reached its full height of 149 metres above ground level. Designed by the internationally renowned Stanton Williams Architects, the building will offer 345 homes when it completes in the final quarter of 2019. Ten Park Drive will form a key part of Canary Wharf’s new residential district, Wood Wharf, alongside neighbouring residential development, One Park Drive.

    Ten Park Drive will comprise 74 studios, 115 one-bedroom apartments, 141 two-bedroom apartments and 15 three-bedroom apartments when complete. The development saw unprecedented interest when it was first launched in July 2015, with over 60 buyers camping overnight to secure their home of choice. With 275 units now sold (80%), Ten Park Drive is currently withdrawn from the market.

    The apartments have been designed to maximise the light and stunning vistas of the surroundings at every opportunity, and interiors have been masterminded by Make Architects. Residents of Ten Park Drive will also have access to a private sky terrace on the 13th floor, with bookable facilities and free use of shared spaces. The development sits adjacent to South Dock and is linked to the water by exquisitely landscaped gardens and parks. Purchasers will also have access to a state-of-the-art new health and fitness club with a swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and fitness class studio.

    Wood Wharf is London’s newest district; an exciting new expansion into reclaimed land by Canary Wharf Group. Residents at Ten Park Drive will be at the centre of a new community, and close to the wide array of art and events, many of which are free as well as five retail malls. With the opening of Elizabeth Line imminently in December this year, those working nearby will be perfectly placed for a speedy commute.

    With up to 3,600 homes in the pipeline, including One Park Drive, Wood Wharf is a burgeoning community just waiting to happen. Currently on the market, One Park Drive features beautifully crafted interiors and private balconies, with views over the Thames and surrounding areas of London. Studios, one, two and three-bedroom apartments are available from £665,000.

    Brian De’ath, Head of Residential Sales at Canary Wharf Group, said: “This is an exciting step in the construction of Ten Park Drive, both for the area and for us at Canary Wharf Group as we top out our first residences on the Estate. The work that has gone into the development so far has been phenomenal, and we look forward to it reaching completion and for the first residents to move into Canary Wharf’.

     “Some of our purchasers camped out overnight to be able to secure a home at Ten Park Drive which I strongly believe says a great deal about the quality of the offering here. The extensive calendar of events, diverse community and excellent transport links on the Estate are making it an increasingly hard location to beat within the London property market.”

    For more information regarding Wood Wharf and the residential offerings at Canary Wharf, contact Canary Wharf Group on 020 7001 3800, email or visit

    To see the original press release click on the link below.

    EE brings 5G to the neighbourhood

    EE brings 5G to the UK for the first time with switch on of live 5G site in Canary Wharf trial.

    • EE’s first live 5G trial will take place in Montgomery Square, Canary Wharf, one of the most popular destinations in London
    • UK’s first live 5G trial will test 5G spectrum and device for performance, speeds and coverage
    • Partnership with Canary Wharf Group to install next generation of mobile technology to benefit consumers and businesses

    EE, part of the BT Group, has switched on its first live 5G trial site. This will be the UK’s first live 5G trial, and is a major milestone in the rollout of the next generation of mobile networks.

    The live trial will be held in Montgomery Square, Canary Wharf. With 150,000 people coming to the Canary Wharf estate every day, the site is one of the most popular regions in the country and attracts consumers and businesses that require world-class connectivity.

    High capacity zone testing is a critical part of EE’s 5G launch program, with the first phase of roll-out targeting ‘hotspots’ across the UK – the places that have the greatest number of people using the most mobile data. EE will make ten more sites live for consumer and business technology trials in east London later this month.

    Fotis Karonis, 5G Technology Lead at BT Group, said: “This is the latest milestone in our 5G rollout – a live test of our 5G network, in a hugely busy ‘hotspot’, where we know there’s going to be demand from customers for increased mobile capacity. With constant upgrades to 4G, and laying the foundations for 5G, we’re working to always be able to deliver what our customers need – both consumers and the vertical industries that will make the greatest use of 5G. We were UK pioneers with 4G and today we saw the UK’s first live connections on 5G – this is a huge step forward for our digital infrastructure.”

    Mark Nallen, Head of Technology and Innovation, Canary Wharf Group, said: “Staying at the forefront of connectivity and new technologies is critical to our community, and that’s why we’re partnering with BT Group to support delivery of 5G. The consumers who live and work here will benefit from being better connected, and the enterprises based here will have the chance to partner with BT Group to understand the full capabilities of 5G.” 

    Canary Wharf Group has a long history of supporting innovation relating to digital infrastructure and mobile technology. It is home to Level39, the tech community of 1,250 start-ups with a diverse range of specialisms including fintech and cybersecurity. During the trial, Canary Wharf Group will also be launching Wood Wharf, a major new mixed-use development designed for residential, retail and London’s technology businesses.

    The trial is part of EE’s journey to a smart, converged network, enabled by 5G. It will establish 5G coverage from the site, and the performance of 5G ‘New Radio’ running over the new 3.4GHz spectrum, acquired in the Ofcom auction earlier this year.

    To see the original press release click on the link below.


    Set to become the world’s first plastic free commercial centre

    Canary Wharf Group set to become world’s first plastic free commercial centre as it joins forces with Surfers Against Sewage

    Canary Wharf Group is proud to announce that they have committed to becoming a Plastic Free Community as the next step in their 12-month #BreakingThePlasticHabit campaign, making them the first commercial centre to take part in the Surfers Against Sewage led initiative.

    The new initiative has been informed by its World Environment Day activities in June, which included a plastic audit across the Estate, and its ground-breaking plastics panel debate.

    The key learning from the debate to break down barriers faced by businesses to eliminate single use plastics is via education, simplification and collaboration.

    As part of finding a way to collaborate to achieve progress, Canary Wharf Group has joined forces with Surfers Against Sewage in their Plastic Free Community initiative, designed to unite and empower individuals, businesses, local government and the wider community to reduce their collective plastic footprint.

    Canary Wharf which stretches across 16.5million sq. ft of London real estate, intends to prove that urban communities play an important role in eliminating avoidable, single-use plastic and reducing the harm plastics do to our rivers and oceans.

    As part of the project, Canary Wharf Group has committed to achieving targets across five key areas; governance, local business support, community engagement, community events, and the formation of a steering group to take the work forward. Pledges include helping local businesses and retailers to remove at least three items of single-use plastic, eliminating them completely or replacing them with sustainable alternatives, and hosting community events that create opportunities for people to engage with the issue.

    Steve Greig, Co-Managing Director, Canary Wharf Management, says: “By starting a cross-industry conversation at World Environment Day at our ‘Breaking the Plastic Habit’ debate, we have put in motion a template for education, simplification and collaboration to work towards a single-use plastic free future.

    “Going for Plastic Free Community accreditation with Surfers Against Sewage is our next step in the #BreakingThePlasticHabit campaign, our framework to continue this long-term strategy, something we truly hope will become a part of Canary Wharf’s legacy. It is our dream that this project will change our incredible community, and its environment, in a credible and positive way”.

    Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive, Surfers Against Sewage, says: “We are delighted to be supporting Canary Wharf Group through the process of gaining Plastic Free Community accreditation. This is fantastic news for London, the UK and the rest of the world. It’s a world first and sets a very high standard.”

    “The potential to inspire solutions-focused collaboration, innovation and partnership is enormous. We’d like to see other global financial centres take similar action on single-use plastics in the interest of healthy and happy communities everywhere. Given the scale of threats to our coasts and marine habitats there could not be a more important time to take action on plastic pollution. We congratulate Canary Wharf Group and call on other London boroughs and districts to take similar action on avoidable single-use plastics, with the aim of stopping plastic pollution.”

    Earlier this year Canary Wharf Group also launched the UK’s first Reverse Vending Machine allowing the thousands of visitors to recycle their single-use plastic bottles and cans in a simple, easy and efficient way.

    To see the original press release click on the link below.


    TOG and Ennismore sign at 15 Water Street

    Ennismore, the developer and operator of unique hospitality properties around the world including The Hoxton and Gleneagles; and TOG, one of the UK’s largest providers of shared workspaces, are two of the fastest growing and creative companies in the UK. They will reside in the distinctive red bricked building of 15 Water Street, designed by the one of Britain’s largest architectural firms, Allies and Morrison. The building will comprise over 180,000 sq. ft. and is scheduled to complete in Q2 of 2021.


    Ennismore has agreed to lease c.100,000 sq. ft. on a 25-year contract, arranged over the Ground floor and Levels 4 to 9. This will house Ennismore’s newest brand, NoCo: a 312-room hotel with honest pricing, clever design, beautiful essentials and a focus on technology.


    TOG has leased c.45,000 sq. ft. of the Water Street mixed-use building, arranged over Ground and Levels 10 to 13 on a 20-year contract. TOG is a pioneer in its field, offering beautiful, individually designed office buildings with progressive membership schemes and flexible agreements to a mix of start-ups and established businesses.


    Wood Wharf is currently under construction by Canary Wharf Group, with the first phase of buildings to be delivered in 2019 and 2020. With 2 million sq. ft. of commercial space, it represents a major new destination for modern businesses.


    The 5 million sq. ft. development will include world-class cultural and educational centres and up to 3,600 residential homes, 380,000 sq. ft. of retail and leisure amenities, a two form primary school and medical facilities set in 3.6 hectares of interconnected open spaces; combining tree-lined high streets, dockside walkways, and running trails. Wood Wharf will become a home to tenants of a modern and progressive mind-set and business community.


    Richard Archer, Managing Director Offices at Canary Wharf Group commented: “As part of our placemaking phase, we chose Ennismore and TOG because they epitomise the vision we have for Wood Wharf. We are specifically partnering with dynamic and forward thinking businesses like Ennismore and TOG so we can continue to attract a truly diverse range of occupiers. We are delighted to announce them as the first to sign leases with us at Wood Wharf.”


    “We’re incredibly excited to launch our new hotel brand NoCo as part of a new era of the Canary Wharf estate” said Sharan Pasricha, CEO of Ennismore, “Wood Wharf provides a location that matches with our mission to create an affordable hotel that will embrace technology, great value, and stylish design, as well as provide an open space to the new tenants of the estate.


    Charlie Green, Co-CEO, The Office Group stated: “The conventional market in and around Canary Wharf has a huge volume of traditional office space. When you have that level of concentration, it tends to follow that the need for flexible and shared space is strong. So we’ve been looking for the right building for some time. With Wood Wharf, we’ve found the right building. We’re delighted to be sharing the building with Ennismore. I think we sit really well with a hotel, and their branding and design skills are outstanding. We’re working very closely with them and CWG to create a landmark building for the Estate.”

    Wood Wharf – the largest home to scale ups

    Canary Wharf Group announces 5m Sq. Ft development designed to become the largest home to scale-ups in London

    • 2m sq. ft of office space for innovative, fast growth-businesses set to attract 20,000 jobs, making Wood Wharf the largest cluster of tech and creative businesses in London
    • New cluster is expected to attract £2bn GVA from new jobs and generate £199m for the local small business economy
    • Wood Wharf to set the highest standards for environmental impact, sustainability and working experience

    Canary Wharf Group has today unveiled plans for a brand-new development, Wood Wharf, one of the most ambitious urban regeneration projects in London.

    Having already created one of the largest business districts in Europe, Canary Wharf Group is continuing to evolve London’s former docks site by redeveloping a 23 acre site into 5m sq. ft of mixed use space. A sense of community, education and culture are at the heart of these plans, which include 2m sq ft dedicated to fast-growth businesses.

    Creating workspaces for entrepreneurs and innovative businesses set to bring 20,000 jobs to the region, Wood Wharf will be a new part of London and one of the largest clusters of tech and creative businesses in the UK.

    To understand the impact of the site on London’s tech and digital landscape, Wood Wharf will attract a larger number of tech jobs than in the entire city of Cambridge[1], concentrated into 23 acres.

    The multi-billion pound development is expected to generate £2bn gross value added from new jobs and £199m into the local small business economy.

    World-class architects and designers, such as Allies and Morrison, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Pilbrow & Partners, Herzog de Meuron and Heatherwick Studio, have been carefully selected to create a vibrant 24/7 urban environment with distinctive architectural appeal that answer the needs of the businesses of the future.

    From open spaces and waterside walkways to running trails and independent retail boutiques, the development is designed to attract tech, creative and progressive businesses of all sizes. The buildings, all with their own individual characteristics, all enjoy external terraces, dual power supplies,  whilst targeting BREEAM “outstanding” and WeLL certification also offering the latest in smart-building technology.

    Wood Wharf has already secured forward-thinking businesses such as Ennismore, owner of The Hoxton Hotels group and The Office Group – taking over 180,000 sq. ft in total. Canary Wharf Group is currently in discussions with a range of tenants spanning the technology, cultural and educational industries.

    The ScaleUp Institute, the organisation mapping the UK’s fastest growing businesses, cites infrastructure as one of the biggest challenges facing successful companies in Britain. Wood Wharf has been purpose-built to offer flexible workspaces and the opportunity for businesses to scale across the development.

    This is already happening across the existing Canary Wharf estate. Level39, the tech community with over 1,250 members including eToro and Ripple, has become the home to start-ups looking to scale at pace. Previous tenants included both Digital Shadows and Revolut, the UK’s latest tech unicorn, who have expanded into larger offices at Canary Wharf.

    Wood Wharf has also been designed to meet Canary Wharf Group’s high sustainability standards. The development will be targeting zero-carbon and zero-waste and is being built to have a positive social impact on the local area and communities – 25 per cent of the 3,600 residential homes will be affordable housing.

    Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Canary Wharf Group, comments: “Canary Wharf Group has reinvented London’s business landscape once, and with Wood Wharf we intend to do so again for the era of fast growth tech and creative businesses. With the intention of creating 20,000 jobs, this will be a major investment into London’s infrastructure and a home for the people shaping the future of this great City.”

    Richard Archer, Managing Director Offices, Canary Wharf Group, comments: “Canary Wharf Group has engaged some of the world’s leading architects and designers to create a new piece of Londonthat will be purpose-built to encourage collaboration and growth for tech and creative businesses. Future tenants will enjoy the hallmarks of a Canary Wharf Group development – resilience, security and distinctive individually designed buildings – combined with public spaces, riverside walkways and a diverse retail offering. This is a business environment for ambitious entrepreneurs and scale-ups.”

    Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK, comments: “London’s tech sector has grown at an extraordinary rate over the past five years. Tech companies have consistently broken records in terms of investment, job creation and revenue growth. The city needs infrastructure to accommodate this rapid expansion and Wood Wharf seems the perfect environment for start-ups and scale-ups with global ambitions.”

    To see the original press release click on the link below.

    How do you design spaces for companies that don’t exist yet?

    Gone are the days when workplaces could go unchanged and expect to serve whomever worked in them. Instead, they must be designed with liquid workforces in mind – they need to be able to move with them, change with them and develop alongside them.

    The future of dynamic organisations and shared facilities means both flexibility and affordability for companies, something not offered at the same scale in traditional set-ups. Remove the physical divisions and you encourage the sharing of best practice, ideas and even camaraderie between colleagues and people who work at different organisations.

    What surrounds us shapes and influences what we do and how well we do it. We need to create spaces that can evolve alongside businesses – places that connect and inspire people and are capable of keeping up with rapid change – only then we will create spaces fit for organisations of tomorrow, whatever they may look like.

    Jacqueline de Rojas, President of techUK

    Can a building help you live longer?

    The working environment has, over recent years, become more important and relevant. Having evolved rapidly, it has become part of the job hunt process. The conditions people work in play a key part in their everyday lives and the working environment must reflect their needs to not only retain talent, but to provide a healthier working life.

    It is about creating somewhere where people enjoy going to work, leading to higher productivity levels and in turn making us happier and healthier.

    In a world that is increasingly health conscious, it makes sense that this is a number one priority for property developers, designers and business owners to dedicate their resources to creating the right spaces for their audience.

    A vibrant, open and naturally lit building that encapsulates the needs of its tenants, will most certainly create an atmosphere that will positively affect our wellbeing and help us live longer.

    Charlie Green, Co-CEO of TOG

    Three exclusive Sky Lofts released in One Park Drive

    Canary Wharf Group has today announced the launch of the Level 32 Sky Lofts, located in One Park Drive, with interiors by Bowler James Brindley.

    The building is divided into three distinct sections; the spacious Loft apartments take up floors 02-09, the Cluster section of apartments intelligently layered to maximise space in the mid-section and the large Bay apartments toward the top of the building. This structure creates a one-off design opportunity on L32, where the Cluster and Bay typologies meet.

    The Sky Lofts are forged out of this idiosyncrasy created by One Park Drive’s striking cylindrical design. Fashioned using the best elements of both apartments, three purchasers now have the opportunity to own a property that has subtle differences in design unlike any previously available. These are some of the most beautifully appointed apartments to be made available within the landmark building, with prices starting from £2,750,000.

    The Sky Lofts benefit from having spacious and separate kitchen and lounge areas as well as five-piece bathroom suites. In combining key characteristics, these newly released apartments boast spaciousness and views. Wrapping around the outside, each of the three Sky Lofts has up to 1,300 sq ft. of terrace, which is accessible from all of the major rooms.

    Learn more

    A new destination for London

    London’s world-renowned business estate, Canary Wharf, is in the throws of significant evolution with the creation of a new district, Wood Wharf. Masterplanned by Allies and Morrison, Wood Wharf will feature living, retail and community spaces designed by the likes of Herzog & de Meuron, Stanton Williams Architects, KPF, Darling Associates, Patel Taylor and Grid Architects.

    Wood Wharf will be a neighbourhood of green spaces and waterside boardwalks where it will be just as easy to grab the essentials of daily life as it will be to take in live music or theatre. One Park Drive, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is the signature building of the new district. Positioned at the head of the dock, it represents everything that makes the new neighbourhood so special – a unique architectural achievement thoughtfully designed to be the very best in city and waterside living.

    Learn more