Built in the middle of an existing ship dock, Crossrail’s Canary Wharf station will better connect the financial district in the east of the city with the West End, the City of London and Heathrow. Finding a suitable location for the new rail station was an early challenge, it got even trickier when the answer came in the shape of part of a dock. This meant designing a 60,000m2 building that would be surrounded by water. Arup helped to design a fully submerged station with shops, restaurants and a new public garden above the waterline.
From the outside, people see a ship-like structure topped with one of the world’s largest continuous timber roofs. This new station is surrounded by some of London’s most valuable properties so planning approvals required that the construction did not disrupt residents, which include four major bank headquarters. A silent piling system was used to minimise noise during construction. Innovative interlocking joints then created a watertight perimeter wall. With this in place, the dock water was drained out before the station was built inside the walls.
One of the station’s invisible strengths is that it is the ultimate flexible space. For example, if the retail levels are no longer needed three decades from now, they can be removed completely and the station will remain entirely functional. Or, if the retail area needs to be overhauled, it can easily be reconfigured. Substantial changes can be made to the size, shape and height of the units, including the creation of new atria or layouts, without any structural obstacles.
Despite the complex construction, the project was delivered early and under budget with the Crossrail station itself virtually complete even though trains will not start running until 2018. Arup went beyond the functional brief to deliver something beautiful and flexible. The result enhances the value of a transport node that will improve the connectivity and desirability of Canary Wharf as a place to live and work.
Canary Wharf Contractors Ltd
Foster + Partners; Adamson Associates International; Tony Meadows Associates