The transformation of East London: Canary Wharf.

article-0-19CEE1EA000005DC-452_964x640 article-0-19CEE1DD000005DC-646_964x763(now and then, Canary Wharf)

Canary Wharf was once the biggest port in the world, but today is a major business district, a giant trade centre, a hub of the global economy. The Canary Wharf that we know today began its construction in 1988, and after recovering from a financial crisis on its first years, it raised stronger than before. It is now one of the 20 largest concentration of employment in the country, resulting in more than 100,000 people working over the same area every day.


It has been said that the creation of Canary Wharf mainly brought positive aspects to the city; a cheaper area than ‘The City’ for businesses to move into, many job opportunities, the necessary investment to enhance the Jubilee Line and to bring to life the project of the DLR (Docklands Light Railway), plus cheaper residential areas which would make of East London a more popular, active, connected, and dynamic area.

But is this actually true?

From those 100,000 employees, Canary Wharf employs 44,500 bankers from the 16 biggest banks in the UK (FT research), and has been said to be the solution for corrupt bankers to solve their problems, such as american financial services Lehman Brothers. Thus it was referred by the political essayist Peter Gowan as ‘Wall Street’s Guantánamo’. In the words of journalist Owen Hatherly: ‘Canary Wharf has been for the last 20 years the most spectacular expression of London’s transformation into a city with levels of inequality that previous generations liked to think they’d fought a war to eliminate’.

After a bit of research it is easy to realise how contradictory opinions about this area are. Some believe the raise in job opportunities brought to the area a huge diversity, refurbished East London, and shed a new light. Others just see it as an inconvenience, a way of attracting more people to an already overcrowded city, where the provided services don’t match the the rhythm of this fast paced ‘Second City’, becoming an annoyance for the local commutes, and the local residential area.

Is Canary Wharf a success after all? Or will it become the city’s biggest myth?

Allen, K. (2015). Canary Wharf workforce quadruples in a decade – [online] Financial Times. Available at: [Accessed 1 Mar. 2015]., (2015). Local news, sport, leisure, jobs, homes, cars in Epping Forest, Waltham Forest, Wanstead &. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Mar. 2015].

Hatherley, O. (2012). The myth that Canary Wharf did east London any good | Owen Hatherley. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].

Post by: Marta Santillana

The transformation of East London: Canary Wharf.

Architecture in East London

Across East London many historical and modern buildings are well known for their architecture and purpose of use.

Tower Of London | Tower Hill

towerl of london
The Tower of London was built in 1066 for the Norman conquest of England. It was used as a prison from 1100 as well as home to many royal residents. The castle is made up of three wards which has undergone severals expansions however the main layout has more or less stayed the same.


The Gherkin | 30 St Mary Axe 

The modern design is for the global company, Swiss Re, for it’s UK head office. The gaps within each floor creates six shafts which act as a natural ventilation system and creates a double glazing effect causing insulation in the office space inside, as the air is compressed between the two floors. This is an energy saving methods which means the building uses half the power a similar tower would use. The cost of the building was £138 million plus £90.6 million for the land cost. The postmodern building has 41 floors.

Jamme Masjid|Brick Lane

The building was built in 1743 as Protestant chapel. In 1819 it was used as a Methodist chapel and by the 19th century it became the Machzike Adass, Great Synagogue. In 1976 it re-opened as mosque after it closed  the population of Jews decreased over the years. The building has stayed the same throughout the years.

Lloyds of London|Lime Street

lloyds of london
The Lloyds of London buildings has three main towers and three service towers that surround a rectangular space. it has 14 floors with 12 glass lifts.  The construction started in 1978 and was completed in 1986 having £75 million spent on it. ‘It is said by English heritage to be “universally recognised as one of the key buildings of the modern epoch’ (, 2015)

Guildhall|Gresham Street

Guildhall was built in 1411 and was finished by 1440. Behind the hall are many things such as a library, print room and large medieval crypts. In the Roman era it was used as an amphitheatre, however now many of the rooms are just used as function rooms. Events are held here such as banquets, awards evenings, law firms and so on. In the 1990s there was an added complex for Guildhall Art Gallery

Canary Wharf

canary whardCanary Wharf has many of the tallest buildings in the UK including the second tallest building which is One Canada Square. This was completed in 1991 and has 50 floors. It is the 15th tallest building in Europe and is the second tallest building in the Uk, after The Shard. Before Canary Wharf turned into what it is today, in 1802 it was one of the busiest docks in the world. However, when the port industry started to decline in the 1960s it officially closed in 1981. A proposal for a new business district was sold and the construction started in 1988.

Post by: Abi Groves

Architecture in East London