Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Canary Wharf

Have you visited the Sky Garden in the Walkie Talkie yet? After eagerly anticipating its opening I found it to be less garden, more cruise ship lobby. Some people loved it. I really didn’t. If you were also left disappointed by the Sky ‘Garden’ then I’ve got a great new urban garden for you – Crossrail Place Roof Garden in Canary Wharf.

Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture

Across London small pockets of development are in place, building for the upcoming arrival of Crossrail, which should be in operation from 2018 and which will cut across London offering a high speed connection from Reading to Abbey Wood and Shenfield via the centre of London. One of the stations will be in Canary Wharf and its hub is now open and features various shops and eateries (including a third branch of The Big Easy) along with a roof garden. In preparation for my exam I needed to go into work to print some stuff off and so to get some fresh air I decided to take a little diversion and spend some time outside in Canary Wharf to see if Crossrail Place could restore my faith in urban green spaces (and keep my hopes up for the Garden Bridge).

Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture

The nearest station is Canary Wharf DLR station. Visible from there and only a few minutes’ walk away, Crossrail Place looks like the sort of space age structure you saw in science fiction films from the 1970s or 1980s. That first impression isn’t helped by the walkway up to it which looks like it could have come straight out of Star Wars.

Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture

But once you ascend an escalator you find yourself in a little oasis below the glass towers of Canary Wharf.

Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architectureCrossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture

Unlike the Sky Garden, the garden at Crossrail Place actually is a garden, rather than a border. Paths wind through the space and benches are dotted here there and everywhere. As there’s no need to pre-book several days in advance and it’s free, it means that the Roof Garden (even though it’s just opened) is actually being used as a truly public space with people in suits tapping away on phones and laptops and young families alike enjoying the tranquility.

Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture plant flower Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture plant flower

The plants are bedding in and have been chosen to reflect an East/West theme that references not only the upcoming Crossrail line but also the history of the area and the countries frequented by the trading ships that used the docks in the area. It’s well thought out and there are information boards which explain some of the history, lending a more educational and accessible air to it than the corporate slickness of the Walkie Talkie.

Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture plant flower Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architectureCrossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture

Designed by Foster and Partners, the lattice roof bears the hallmark of many of their other designs. I love their work (see a post a wrote a while ago on an architectural tour I took of the Gherkin) and this was no exception. It’s more natural than their other city designs and is partially open to the elements, which allows for rain to water the garden and also for it to not feel too much like a greenhouse.

Crossrail Place Roof Garden Canary Wharf Foster and Partners urban architecture

I loved it and it made me wish I worked in Canary Wharf again. A few years ago I was seconded there for six months but in the winter. Canary Wharf is pretty much made for the winter because so much of it is underground. From leaving the DLR I would head downstairs into the underground shopping centre and from there could take an escalator straight into my office building. I never had to step foot outside, perfect when it’s freezing cold. However, at the moment I can imagine nothing better than a summer lunch break sat in the Crossrail Place Roof Garden.

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  • ninegrandstudent

    This looks like a lovely place, I’ll definitely try take a visit! x

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Student Lifestyle Blog

    • It’s actually worth a little trip out to Canary Wharf, plus, summertime in the Wharf is always actually quite a nice place to be, oddly enough, it never feels like London to me.

  • I hope I’ll visit some of the few urban gardens London has to offer, this summer – they look great 🙂
    I just found your blog and I can definitely say I’m guilty of reading one too many posts as a procrastination method but it’s been super enjoyable 🙂 Can’t wait to read more ! X

    http://www.farawaylucy.com

    • Thank you, that’s so sweet. I’m definitely going to be checking out yours (one of my favourite things about blog comments is discovering fab bloggers, from a quick glance your photography is beautiful).

      I wish I could spend more time in gardens and outside in summer, sadly my hayfever kicks in in June which means I spend the best part of the year inside hiding from the pollen, so I’m trying to make the most of being outside now!

  • Wow, that looks fab! You took some really great pictures too. I’ll have to pop by when I’m next in London.

    Thanks for linking up to the Lifestyle Linkup today! Hope to see you again next week 🙂

    Lyndsay xx

    • The Lifestyle Linkup is my first linkup but I’m excited to discover some great blogs I hadn’t been aware of before. So thanks for setting it up!

  • I love the idea of these gardens! So nice to know that there’s another alternative to the Sky Gardens, thanks for the tip!

    Lauren xx The Lifestyle Diaries

  • I hadn’t heard of this but I’ll be sure to visit when I’m next in Canary Wharf, thanks for the tip. Loved the Sky Garden personally!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  • It looks really lovely – I’ve heard of these gardens but haven’t been yet so will need to take a trip. X

  • That looks lovely! I really enjoyed the Sky Gardens, but more for the amazing view and the food than for the plants!
    Anne-Sophie – http://www.citycookie.co.uk

  • Wow! I’ve never heard about that place before and it looks incredible!! Hope I get to check it out one day.

    Nat | Dignifiable

  • This is amazing! Thanks for the tip. It looks much prettier than the Sky Garden!

  • I never went to the sky gardens as the reviews put me off. I love flowers, topiary, fornage and architecture and the thought of someone not doing either well really did not appeal. This however really does look so worth the visit what a great building and the gardens look superb Lucy x

  • This looks so lovely! Whenever I’m up in London next, I’ll have to check it out 🙂

    http://www.alittletwistof.blogspot.co.uk

  • Carolin

    Oh that looks like an interesting alternative to Sky Gardens and it is an actual garden. Amazing that it is free, too!

    Caz | Style Lingua

  • We’re definitely going to have to pop by here! What a great little find…

  • Nubia Panthera

    do you have to pay for entry?.

    • Lisa

      No, it’s free!

  • Candy Blackham

    I agree with you – Sky Garden is disappointing, and I love the Canary Wharf Roof Garden. I have also posted on the garden. By the way, do you know about the Open Garden Squares Weekend in London? June each year?