Roof garden atop Foster-designed Crossrail station opens this week

by Alice Wright

London’s next big public roof garden is due to open at Canary Wharf this Friday.

 The 5,300m² garden on top of the new Crossrail station will feature exotic plants inspired by the area’s history as a nineteenth-century trading hub and a complex timber lattice roof designed by Foster + Partners.

The wooden structure has been designed to evoke a ship sailing into West India Dock and the planting its cargo – rare and unusual specimens from across the world brought back by intrepid Victorian plant hunters.

 The 310m-long roof features plastic pillows pumped full of air, providing a similar insulating effect to the Biomes at the Eden Project. The roof is semi-open, allowing natural ventilation, and will harvest rainwater for irrigating the roof garden and supplying the building’s toilets.

The garden has been designed by landscape architect Gillespies, who are also creating a sunken garden at dock level within a flood storage attenuation system, next to the dockside promenade. A series of stepped terraces will contain cascading pools of water and reed planting.

Canary Wharf Group began work on the Crossrail station in May 2009. Above the station it is developing 115,000sq ft of retail and leisure space on four storeys. It will be three years before the station is open.

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