Canary Wharf

London, United Kingdom

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

Four stark outdoor public spaces and a maze of underground shops that are hidden from view.

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Why It Doesn't Work

We had never heard positive comments about the Canary Wharf development, so we were not expecting a lot when we went there. We were more disappointed than we expected to be. They have four outdoor public spaces and a maze of underground shops that are virtually hidden from view and hard to find. Three of the public spaces were filled with cars. Evidently, they think so little of their public space that they think a car show is an attraction to enliven them.

This very large complex rivals any office park in size. The complex fails on every score. The bottoms of the buildings are stark and empty, or covered with columns to hide any use that might try to reach out. Even when you get behind the columns or arcades, and you get some retail or a nice entranceway, the result is still stark and uninviting. Any outside street is uninteresting and uninviting. One almost hopes to see some seedy characters to add some personality to the place. There is clearly a very limited clientele that they want to attract.

Contrast this complex with either Battery Park City or Rockefeller Center and you see how far off the mark Canary Wharf is. One begins to think as Winston Churchill said... We shape our building, and afterwards they shape us... pretty scary!

Contact Info:

Canary Wharf Group: 020 7418 2000

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