This is a pocket park that sits right on top of a tube station, and one that very nearly didn’t exist.
The station is the cavernous Jubilee line station at Canary Wharf, which was built inside part of the old docks, and the original plan was to create a deep pool above the station to restore the effect of the dock that had been taken over by the tube station.
As it was, it turned out to be too great an engineering challenge, and it’s the area’s benefit that a park was built instead, as it’s very busy on summer’s days, if rather less so on a cold autumn morning.
What could however have been a wide open space has been delightfully carved up into “rooms” with stone walls curving around the spaces alternatively planted, or filled with water features.
With the exception of small pockets of flowers in a handful of locations, the park is dominated by a handful of solid colours, the greens, the browns and the blue-stone of the walls. It creates a coherent appearance very different from most parks which will be filled with flowering plants in every spare corner space.
Another striking feature is the use of a type of fast growing redwood tree, the Metasequoia all around the park. The tall sculptural trees offer plenty of shade in summer, but create a clever vista in winter with the brown branches contrasting with the background of glass and steel office blocks.
The elevate ponds and the fountains create pathways through the park, and the noise from the fountains helps to focus the attention inwards and away from the background noise of Canary Wharf. Occasionally ducks can be seen swimming around the in the ponds, and delighting passers by.
Although most people stick to the wide central path, there are some lovely little alleys in the park that mainly lead nowhere, but hidden nooks are always a delight to explore.
The park is actually a slope, rising by 3 metres along its length, and this was exaggerated by sculpting hills into the site – packed up with polystyrene under the soil.
The park was completed in November 2002 and was awarded the Grand National BALI Award in November 2003.