The firm’s ship-like Crossrail transit station features an enviable rooftop garden by Gillespie landscape architects.
A curious building has cropped up in – or perhaps sailed into – east London’s Canary Wharf, atop the new Crossrail transit station at North Dock. It’s part of an extensive redevelopment of the financial district that will double the number of people living and working here over the next 10 years. Though the station whirs into action in 2018, visitors began to arrive in May with the opening of the multi-use structure by Foster + Partners. Spread over seven storeys, the ship-like building culminates in an enchanting 4,160-square-metre rooftop garden that showcases exotic botanical species from around the globe.
Conceived by Gillespies landscape architects, the Crossrail station rooftop garden brings together two communities: area residents, and the thousands of office workers from the surrounding towers. “For us, the garden is the key to drawing people to the building,” says Ben Scott of Foster + Partners. There are spaces for community groups, benches to sit on and pathways that cut through dense plantings. Sometimes there is live music.
The long, narrow building recalls the area’s marine past: four storeys descend below ground like the hull of an ocean liner. Any resemblance to a ship, however, is coincidental, says Scott. “It wasn’t a whimsical architectural expression at all. It was developed from the functional parameters.” The roof uses air-filled ETFE cushions in lieu of glass to create a perfect microclimate. Evoking the past, it alludes to the glass Wardian cases full of exotic plants that once passed through the wharf on the way to Kew Gardens. Today visitors can relax amid the greenery and enjoy the views and sounds of the Thames through the open sides, which is sure to lower stress levels.