How tall is Canary Wharf?

how tall is canary wharf office view
how tall is canary wharf office view

A look at the height of Canary Wharf


One Canada Square — 235 m

Canary Wharf is famous for several things:

  • As the UK’s leading financial centre — with more finance jobs than the City of London
  • Being surrounded by water in the regenerated docklands area
  • That famous tower! — and a collection of high rise buildings

But what few people really appreciate, is just how tall Canary Wharf and the surrounding Isle of Dogs is in comparison to the rest of the UK.

This post will look at how tall Canary Wharf is:

  • The tallest buildings in Canary Wharf
  • How tall Canary Wharf is compared to the rest of the UK
  • How tall the famous Canary Wharf tower actually is
  • How tall London and Canary Wharf is vs other global cities

How do we measure tall?

Before looking at the tallest buildings, we first need to define what we are measuring.

This is not quite as easy as you would assume — this architecture website counts at least 10 methods of working out where the top is — and hence buildings frequently have a variation of heights.

Once you’ve worked out where the top is, you can still encounter difficulties, and this is why you will often see two heights listed on the pages of various tall buildings in the UK. AOD / AMSL refer to the building’s height above a datum point — either the ordinance survey datum (AOD) or the height of mean sea level (AMSL)

Datum heights are often listed by developers in the race to become the tallest, as they can look more impressive.

However, the problem with using datum heights is that even over a small area, the land can fall away significantly. As an example the highest natural peak in London, Westerham Heights in Bromley South London, is actually 245 meters above sea level — higher than every skyscraper in Canary Wharf!

We will keep it simple, and use the most common definition from The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). All the heights in this article are measured from the street level entrance to the structural top.

Height is measured from the sidewalk of the main entrance to the structural top of the building including penthouse and tower. Television towers, radio antennas and flagpoles are not included.

CTBUH — Measuring tall buildings

What is the tallest building in Canary Wharf?

canary wharf centre looking up at one canada square

Despite massive construction over the previous 30 years, the tallest building in Canary Wharf is still the famous One Canada Square.

With its iconic pyramid top — the pyramid itself is 30 meters tall — the tower stands at a massive 235 meters tall.

While other buildings have got close to One Canada Square’s height — the Landmark Pinnacle is only 2 meters shorter — due to civil aviation restrictions imposed by nearby London City Airport, it is unlikely that there will ever be a building in Canary Wharf built taller.

The tallest buildings in Canary Wharf

Aside from that famous tower, Canary Wharf holds a number of records for tall buildings in all categories. Here are four of the tallest.

The tallest residential building

Landmark Pinnacle is a 233 m residential tower, set to complete in 2022. Commissioned by Chalegrove properties, the tallest residential tower ever built in the UK is located to the immediate west of the Canary Wharf estate.

landmark pinnacle view across thames

At the 75th floor, you will find the highest residents amenities level ever built.

This open rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the City boasts landscaping, seating and even a rooftop bar.

A drink spilled from the rooftop bar would take seven seconds to fall to the ground — the time it took to read this sentence.

The tallest hotel

novotel canary wharf hotel

Canary Wharf is home to the tallest hotel in the UK, and the tallest Novotel in the world.

Isn’t the Shangri-la at the Shard taller?

Yes. Technically, the Shangri-la hotel at the Shard in London — at 309.6 m — is taller. However, the Shard is a multi-use building, consisting of office space, hotel, retail, public viewing platform and even apartments.

When looking at buildings solely containing hotels, the 127 meter Novotel eclipsed London Hilton Park Lane in 2016 to become the tallest hotel in the UK.

The tallest rental building

newfoundland vertus build to rent

Opening this year in 2021, Newfoundland is a 218 m tall residential tower on the Canary Wharf estate.

Commissioned by the Canary Wharf Group for their rental arm — VertusNewfoundland is a build-to-rent development.

Not only one of the tallest buildings ever built on the estate, Newfoundland is the tallest build-to-rent development in the UK and offers sweeping views across central London.

The tallest offices

The Citigroup Centre, consists of 33 Canada Square and 25 Canada Square. While 33 Canada Square is not particularly tall, it’s linked building (shown below) is the joint tallest tower in Canary Wharf after One Canada Square.

The taller of the two Citigroup buildings and sporting the Citigroup logo, 25 Canada Square, stands at 200 meters tall. The boxy aesthetic is similar to One Canada Square, as the Citigroup HQ was also designed by Cesar Pelli architects.

how tall is canary wharf office view

HSBC and CITI buildings stand either side of the famous Canary Wharf tower

This Citigroup complex was completed in 2001 and built in tandem with another famous Canary Wharf building — the HSBC tower.

HSBCs Global headquarters, the HSBC tower at 8 Canada Square is also 200 m tall and hence is the joint 2nd tallest residential buildings in Canary Wharf.

With a softer, more rounded aesthetic than the sister tower at Citibank, 8 Canada Square was completed by another prominent Canary Wharf architect Sir Norman Foster. Foster and Partners designed the estates famous Jubilee tube station, the upcoming Crossrail Place and many other buildings across the estate.


How tall is Canary Wharf in comparison to other areas of the UK?

how tall is canary wharf vs glasgow tower
Glasgow
how tall is canary wharf vs swansea meridian tower
Swansea
how tall is canary wharf vs manchester deansgate
Manchester
how tall is canary wharf vs belfast obel building
Belfast

As of 2021, Canary Wharf has 5 out of the top 10 tallest buildings in the UK.

If we expand this to Include the wider Isle of Dogs area — both under the borough of Tower Hamlets — this one London borough has 18 out of the 50 tallest buildings in the UK.

Excluding London the only City in the UK that currently has skyscrapers of similar height to Canary Wharf is Manchester. There has been a recent skyscraper boom in Deansgate with 4 completed and several underway.

The tallest Skyscraper in Manchester is the 67-storey South Tower completing in 2019 at 201 meters. This height puts South Tower at a similar height to many of the tallest residential skyscrapers recently built in Canary Wharf — and the same height as the famous HSBC tower.

The tallest building in Ireland is the Obel Tower, a residential high-rise reaching 85 meters. Completed in 2010, it is also the tallest building on the isle of Ireland.

This residential high-rise offers sweeping views across Belfast.

Obel Tower currently stands alone as the tallest tower by a significant margin, dominating the Belfast skyline. In comparison to towers in Canary Wharf, it is just over a third of the height of One Canada Square, and wouldn’t make the top 20 tallest buildings list.

Scotland’s highest tower is the Glasgow Tower, an interesting fully rotating tower that stands at 127 meters.

Capable of turning to face the prevailing wind, Glasgow Tower forms part of the science museum, and actually holds several records.

Glasgow Tower holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest fully rotating freestanding structure in the world.

Glasgow Science Museum

Despite approved plans for a 132 m tower, the current tallest building in Wales remains as Swansea’s Meridian tower as of 2021.

At 107 meters, Meridian Tower is roughly half the height of the tallest residential towers in Canary Wharf. The building has a chequered history, involving bankruptcy, fire safety failings, construction tragedy and even an armed siege.


Will Canary Wharf remain the tallest part of London?

Once the tallest building in the UK, the Canary Wharf building — One Canada Square — is now the 3rd tallest building in London after The Shard and 22 Bishopsgate.

Unlike Canary Wharf’s beginnings in the 1980s — with the City of London the only tall cluster in London — there are now 6 main high-rise clusters in London:

  1. Canary Wharf
  2. South Bank
  3. Nine Elms
  4. City of London
  5. City Road
  6. Stratford

With more high-rise buildings under development across London, will Canary Wharf remain the tallest area?

The short answer is yes. Based on current and planned developments, Canary Wharf is likely to remain the tallest part of London.

Looking at a regional breakdown of planned tall buildings in London, Central and West London have 20% each — accounting for around 40% in total. North and South London have the lowest numbers respectively, adding to around 15% of all planned tall buildings. East London including Canary Wharf has a massive 45% of all planned tall buildings on its own.

tower hamlets tall buildings completion graph
London Tall Building Survey 2020

The East London sub-region contains the largest number of tall buildings proposed, approved and under construction, accounting for almost half of the entire tall buildings pipeline at 44%, with 232 tall buildings

NLA — 2020 Survey

Tower Hamlets has 78 tall buildings in the development pipeline, the highest of any area in London. Interestingly, not only are there more buildings in the development pipeline for Canary Wharf, those under development are significantly higher than those being built elsewhere too.

A quarter were between 30 and 39 storeys and the remaining 13% were more than 40 storeys. The average height of all buildings in the pipeline is 29 storeys.


How tall is Canary Wharf? — Globally

While Canary Wharf is significantly taller than every other area in the UK, it doesn’t do particularly well on the global stakes.

The tallest city in the UK, London, isn’t even in the top 30 tallest cities globally.

Counting tall as buildings over 12 storeys (35 meters) tall, the current tallest city is Seoul in South Korea, with 16,359.

how tall is canary wharf vs shenzhen skyscrapers

Shenzhen in China, is not only the 2nd tallest city in the world, but it is also the fastest growing.

For ultra-tall cities, looking purely at skyscrapers defined as above 150 meters. Canary Wharf, and indeed London as a whole is nowhere to be found. London ranks number 48 in the world!

Tallest cities in the world

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Shenzhen
  3. New York
  4. Dubai
  5. Shanghai

There are many super-tall towers globally in the pipeline, but in 2021 the current tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

At 828 meters tall, you could fit all three of the tallest buildings in Canary Wharf — One Canada Square, Landmark Pinnacle and Newfoundland — stacked on top of each other and still have 140 meters left to spare till the top of the Burj Khalifa!


Summary

60 tall buildings were completed in London during 2019, a record level and up 140% on 2018s construction levels.

While Greenwich is the closer competitor, Tower Hamlets — largely driven by Canary Wharf and the Isle of dogs — still completed the most tall new buildings and has the most tall buildings in the pipeline. It looks like Canary Wharf will retain its status as the tallest area in the UK for a long time.

how tall is canary wharf — burj khalifa vs london
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa superimposed over the City of London — FusionPeople

Despite this, it’s clear to see that to answer the question how tall is Canary Wharf really depends on the perspective you view it from.

Canary Wharf is exceptionally tall in comparison to the rest of London and the UK. However, on a global scale it is not particularly tall by any measure — the overall quantity of tall buildings, the number of very tall buildings, or indeed the sheer height of its tallest building One Canada Square.

Ultra-tall cities like Shenzhen completed 14 200 meter + buildings last year alone. In comparison, in 2020 London only has 7 buildings of comparable height across the entire construction pipeline. With this in mind, without significant additional development, in global terms it is likely that Canary Wharf will actually fall further down the tables.