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Work starts on Herzog & de Meuron skyscraper despite Brexit fears

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Canary Wharf Group chief executive George Iacobescu has said construction is under way on on Herzog & de Meuron’s first UK residential scheme, despite Brexit jitters

Tower Hamlets Council approved plans for the 57-storey One Park Drive tower in London’s Docklands, designed by the Swiss practice in July 2015.

Speaking at a Canary Wharf Group preview event for the skyscraper, which announced flats for the tower would go on sale on 4 May and revealed new images, Iacobescu admitted that his company had had second thoughts about the scheme following the EU referendum vote.

He said: ‘We hesitated because we saw the effects on the market. There is no question that the market has slowed down.

‘The fact that we’re doing the building shows two things: number one, that we have trust in the future of the UK – in or out [of the EU]; and second, we think it’s such a good quality and special product, it’s something that people would want to buy. Maybe it is not going to appeal to foreigners any more, but we came to the conclusion that we would do this tower regardless of the market, because it created its own market.’

The cylindrical scheme on the edge of South Dock, east of the existing Canary Wharf estate, will house 483 flats for sale, ranging from studios to three-bedroom family homes.

Speaking at the event, Herzog & de Meuron senior partner Ascan Mergenthaler described the design of the building as comprised of ‘three different clusters; but they all relate to each other to create an overall carved form’.

Iacobescu added that the cost of the building had increased by 15 per cent as a result of the drop in the pound since the Brexit vote. But he said the tower was under construction and would be completed within three and a half years.

Speaking about the impact of the Brexit vote on the the construction of tall buildings in general, he said: ‘There is very serious inflation in construction costs. It’s generated by the drop of the pound. I’d say probably 60 to 70 per cent of the products are coming from overseas […] Brexit might end up very well but there is a lot of uncertainty.’

Iacobescu added: ‘But in principle we have to move forward. We are where we are, and we’re moving forward. The fact that we’re building that building shows trust in the future, and it’s a special building.’

The tower is part of the huge residential-led expansion of the east London business district formerly known as Wood Wharf and now dubbed the New Phase, masterplanned by Allies and Morrison.

The wider development of some 20 buildings features schemes by Stanton Williams, KPF, Darling Associates, GRID Architects and Patel Taylor. It will eventually create 3,200 new homes, 1.9 million m2 of office space and 35,000m2 of retail floorspace, along with a community centre and a network of public squares.

Iacobescu added that many contractors had lost money because they were ‘locked into’ guaranteed maximum price contracts.

‘No one expected the drop in the pound so a lot of contractors are losing money,’ he said. ‘Somehow on the new contracts they are trying to balance and up their numbers to make up for what they are losing. Quite sizable and very reputable contractors suffered very badly from the fall of the pound.’

Herzog and de Meuron's Wood Wharf tower - detailed approval July 2015 [plan]


Project data

Architect Herzog & de Meuron
Masterplan architect Allies and Morrison
Client Canary Wharf Group
Start on site enabling works and demolition have started on the (whole) new phase site
Gross internal floor area 468 units
Planning consultant GVA
Main contractor CWCL

Plan - Herzog and de Meuron tower marked in red

Site Plan - Herzog & de Meuron tower marked in red

Previous story (AJ 12.12.14)

Boris gives green light to Canary Wharf expansion

London Mayor Boris Johnson has rubberstamped proposals for the eastward expansion of Canary Wharf with a development that will include a landmark 57-storey Herzog & de Meuron skyscraper

His approval builds on outline permission for the proposals for the Wood Wharf area, which were backed by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in July.

The decision gives the developer consent to build up to 3,610 new homes, 1.9million m2 of office space and 35,000m2 of retail floorspace, along with a community centre and a network of public squares.

Canary Wharf Group previously said it planned to deliver a lower level housing to increase the amount of other use types that it could incorporate into the scheme.

Chairman and chief executive officer Sir George Iacobescu said the expansion would ‘reinforce’ Canary Wharf’s position as one of the most exciting and vibrant places to live and work the capital.

‘It will offer high street retail units to complement Canary Wharf’s existing retail offer, as well as affordable housing on site,’ he said.

‘It will also include substantial new green parks and dockside walks, a library, a large GP surgery, a school for 420 children, a community sports hall and community space.’

Iacobescu said the new office space would be specifically designed to accommodate the technology media and telecoms sector, as well as financial and professional services firms.

Johnson said the development would transform the ‘currently derelict’ Wood Wharf site ‘beyond all comprehension’.

‘This is exactly the kind of scheme that we need to accommodate London’s booming population that is set to break through the nine million mark within the next decade,’ he added.

Wood Wharf

View of Canary Wharf Group’s proposed Wood Wharf development, with part of Herzog & de Meuron’s 57-storey skyscraper to the right.


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