Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two views of Canary Wharf

click photos to enlarge
The United Kingdom doesn't offer much in the way of Manhattan-style clusters of modern towers: the closest we get is Canary Wharf in London's Docklands. Over the past several years, on my regular visits to the capital, I've watched as it has expanded around the hub of One Canada Square (the tallest block with the pyramidal top). New towers have sprung up, riverside flats have multiplied, and an underground shopping centre has filled with ever more stores. About 25,000 people worked there in 1999. This had risen to 65,000 by 2005, and the aim is to reach about 90,000.

Canary Wharf was initially denigrated by the architectural profession and by those with an interest in our built environment. I was lukewarm too. But, like those early critics, I've warmed to the place as it has expanded. It's not just that it offers something unique in Britain, it's also that towers work best in clusters, and what looks anaemic when there's only two or three acquires force when there's ten, a dozen or more. During my recent trip to London I enjoyed a walk through the gleaming giants, appreciating the qualities of the best examples such as Cesar Pelli's original and still tallest tower, and recognising the contribution to the whole made by the less distinguished buildings.

The photograph above that was taken during the early afternoon was a quick shot as I walked along the south bank of the Thames to catch the ferry across. A deep blue sky, fluffy clouds, and crisp buildings made it an appealing vista. Moreover, the fact that much of this financial district was in cloud appealed to my liking for metaphor! The evening shot was taken from near the Royal Obseravtory in Greenwich Park. In the foreground is the white rectangular block of Inigo Jones' Queen's House (1616-1635), beyond that are the cupolas of Sir Christopher Wren's Royal Naval Hospital (1664, 1696-1702), then theThames can be glimpsed before we see the towers of Canary Wharf glowing in the last of the sun.

photographs & text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1 (Photo 2)
Camera: Lumix LX3 (Olympus E510)
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm : 24mm/35mm equiv. (53mm : 106mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6 (f6.3)
Shutter Speed: 1/1000 (1/50)
ISO: 80 (800)
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV (-1.7 EV)
Image Stabilisation: On