55-storeys — Isle of Dogs
The Wardian is a Ballymore and EcoWorld London joint project.
Taking a modernist style, it is a striking development of two of the tallest residential towers ever built in London, standing at 55-storeys (187m) and 50-storeys (158m), respectively.
The two towers, east and west, are linked by an expansive two-storey podium. This serves as the entranceway and focus point for the development, with the double-height lobby containing large quantities of plants and ferns.
There are 766 apartments in total, the majority comprising of: studios, one-bedrooms, and two bedrooms. At the top of each tower, there are also two bedroom, double-height penthouses.
Wardian’s interesting beginning
The development area itself has a bit of a chequered history. Ballymore had owned the docksite plot for over 25 years before this residential construction. Initially they planned to build some 525,000ft of offices on the plot, taking advantage of the proximity to the Canary Wharf estate.
Ballymore got as far as constructing the basement levels for this office plot before a lack of interest from commercial tenants derailed the plan.
About the same time as the commercial development was stalling, the Canary Wharf group were expressing a desire to move towards residential development for a new part of the estate. Ballymore had had great success in ultra luxury property development on the peninsula, with their 2009 development Pan Peninsula.
This change in approach lead to development of Arrowhead Quay, and the residential twin tower block that we see today, designed by architects Glen Howells. In 2015, two major developments occurred:
- Ballymore rebranded Arrowhead Quay as The Wardian
- EcoWorld took a 2.8 billion euro stake in 3 of Ballymore’s London developments, including The Wardian
EcoWorld are a Malaysian global property group, who have the majority of their overseas developments in London and Australia.
Despite being a 75% stakeholder in the newly formed Ballymore EcoWorld Holding company LTD, Ballymore maintain management of the developments. For the consumer, this is effectively a Ballymore development.
The buildings topped out in August 2019. Residents began moving into units in the east tower in mid 2020, with estimated completion for all of the units in the east tower at the beginning of 2021.
The second tower is structurally complete, but interior work is expected to continue until mid-2022 and the completion of the development.
Area and transport
The Wardian is located centrally in the Isle of Dogs, on the edge of the Canary Wharf estate.
With South Quay footbridge around 150m away, it is about as close to living on the private Canary Wharf estate as you can get without living in the new Wood Wharf development.
For this reason, transport links are excellent, and Canary Wharf tube station is a 5 minute walk. The Crossrail station is not much further, at around a 10 minute walk, and there are two choices for the DLR either South Quay or Canary Wharf DLR stations.
The development is relatively car friendly, being located on Marsh Wall, the main road that runs east west across the peninsula. There is a pick up and drop off area infront, and underground parking beneath the development.
The real bonus of this development is the botanical theme, and the amenities are no exception. Ballymore have embraced the recent biophilic architecture trend, and embraced nature throughout this development.
The facilities listed:
- Garden lobby area
- 25 meter swimming pool
- Retail units and waterfront cafe to be implemented
- Rooftop observatory and bar
All of these stick to the theme, with two of the most interesting being the rooftop observatory and bar, and the swimming pool. The pool itself actually stretches from inside the podium area on the ground floor to an open air conservatory type area.
The rooftop observatory is set in the taller east tower, and should offer great views across Canary Wharf itself.
While ‘vibrant rooftop observatory’ is probably stretching it, London having the highest light pollution levels of anywhere in the country, it does look like a great place to relax and take in the views.
Having a gin garden theme, the observatory’s double height area is used to enable the team to bring in larger indoor plants, similar to the downstairs atrium.
Fantastic balconies and garden theme
With the heart of this development revolving around nature and outside space, its only fair that residents get their own area. To this benefit the design of The Wardian is fantastic. Unlike nearby ultra tall developments, Landmark Pinnacle and South Quay Plaza, balconies are not limited here!
An integral part of the building, the cantilevered balconies extend 6 feet around the entirety of the building, so not only does every single flat get a balcony, even the smallest flats have spacious balconies.
As an example, even the smaller studio flats, circa 400 square foot, have over 100square foot balconies. Some of the two bedroom flats balconies stretch to over 400 square foot! With expensive sliding doors and large curtain window walls, it really does mean its a usable outdoor space, which in developments of this type is usually limited.
Ballymore have also partnered with a specialist landscaping company, Camlins landscaping. This is where the term sky garden comes from, and it does look impressive. The reinforced balconies can be modified to hold soil and gravel, and gardens can be created.
Its a really unique feature to this development, and I think will provide a welcome respite from, at times, the grey monotony of city living.
Exceptional build quality
No stranger to ultra luxury, Ballymore started the trend at their first development in the area Pan Peninsula. At The Wardian there is more of the same, with some really nice details, like marble chevron flooring in the bathrooms.
The building facia is clad in solid dark aluminium panels, that provide excellent insulation but also add to the no-expense spared feel. The Wardian has a minimalist style, slender rectangular towers with striking white edged balconies that contrast the dark aluminium cladding.
While arguably less interesting than developments like Maine Tower, and its more colourful Art-Deco style theme, the minimalist and high class finish here should age well.
Sticking with the Wardian case theme, glass and bronze is used liberally throughout this development, tying the apartments and the communal areas together.
While the design theme based on the Wardian glass case, has been implemented throughout, its a little dissapointing to see that some of the nicest features are not included as standard. This is not a con with the building per se, but more of a questionable move on the developers behalf.
I appreciate that to have individual outdoor gardens maintained by the landscaping firm will require an ongoing additional contract, but it seems a strange way of marketing this ultra premium development.
The Wardian looks like the one of the most interesting developments in Canary Wharf in years, and has followed the botanical garden theme throughout, even down to little details like the beautiful glass shelving units in the kitchen. But instead of a standard fit: “That will be the kitchen pack, and an additional several thousand pounds extra.”
Even the balcony gardens, a seemingly integral feature of the development, come with the caveat that installation is a significant additional extra.
If this was a less premium building, you could understand some upselling, but some flats in The Wardian are north of £1600 per square foot. This is right at the prime end of the Canary Wharf property market, and directly competing with the groups own ultra luxury offerings, like One Park Drive.
To advise prospective buyers that to have the balcony fitted to the standard displayed throughout all of the marketing is an additional cost, circa £20,000 for a two bedroom apartment, seems like a bit of an odd move on behalf of Ballymore.
Location brings some difficulties
Ballymore approached GHA to resolve a difficult dockside site where a previous development had failed.Glen Howells Architects
The architects words are unlikely to be seen on a brochure, but they may have a point about the plot for The Wardian. On one hand the location is great, it is both at the water front, and perfectly placed for access to the financial district of Canary Wharf.
On the other hand, the elevated DLR line snakes right next to the eastern edge of the plot, so the architects have worked carefully to try and mitigate as much noise as possible from the DLR. The elevated podium raises flats off the ground, and the lower levels on the eastern side of the east tower have fully glazed in wintergardens instead of balconies.
On the north western side, that previously provided sweeping views of the capital, Chalegrove Properties Limited have built the tallest residential tower in Europe, Landmark Pinnacle. Neither of these things would stop me purchasing this development, and the towering buildings of The Wardian will provide great views across Canary Wharf for the other aspects, but not in quite the same way.
Personally I think this development is a breath of fresh air, and a welcome shift in focus for the area. Architecturally strong, and putting a real focus on greenery for its residents, The Wardian captures an overall trend towards a desire for bringing nature back into our cities.
While it doesn’t go as far as some biophilic developments such as the globally famous Bosco Verticale, it looks like Ballymore have put a real focus on this design theme throughout, rather than approaching it in a token manner.
Having procured the 100+ species of plants early on in the construction process, some have been growing in their glass Wardian cases alongside the development for over two years already.
There were initial difficulties with the plot, and prospective buyers will have to be careful to choose their flats, height and aspect, wisely in this development. However, by coupling the botanical theme with the notably high quality of the build and the close proximity to the financial center, I think this will be a very successful development.