The idea behind the 15-minute city is that everything we need for a rich, varied, connected lifestyle should be within a quarter of an hour on foot or by bike.
It’s an attractive prospect. So much so, Parisienne Mayor Anne Hidalgo has adopted it as a key pillar in her ongoing efforts to improve the French capital. It’s a radical new approach to city planning – the foundation for real, positive change in how we view, navigate and develop the world’s cities.
But here in Canary Wharf it doesn’t sound quite so novel. After all, it’s something Canary Wharf Group has been pursuing for years. And now, the arrival of Wood Wharf – a whole new neighbourhood on the Estate – makes it a firm reality.
EVERYTHING IN CLOSE PROXIMITY
We all know the feeling. The hair-pulling frustration of rush hour traffic. Flustered panic from battling your way up busy thoroughfares. In small doses, this is just part of the rough and smooth of modern life, but it can grind you down. More than we’d like to admit, recent lockdowns occasionally felt like something of a reprieve.
So, what if everything we needed for living, socialising and revitalisation wasn’t so awkward to flit between? What if home, work, shops, entertainment, parks and healthcare were close at hand – say, within a quarter of an hour?
This is the 15-minute city formula, and it’s one that was hit on long ago here in Canary Wharf. It’s why, just minutes from Newfoundland’s door, you’ve got an emporium of premium stores alongside charming boutiques and familiar high street names across five malls. The saunter back is then an easy stroll through landscaped squares and parks.
Maybe you stop for a moment among the trickling water features of Jubilee Park or nip in to Third Space to book your next treatment. You might even pop into the office to pick up your laptop so you can work from home on Monday.
Wood Wharf, a whole new part of the Estate, heralds even more. It’s a neighbourhood that lets you switch seamlessly from boardroom to boardwalk, and from beauty treatment to delicious dining experiences brought by the likes of Mercato Metropolitano. Here, work and play walk hand in hand and nature and innovation thrive together.
It never occurred to us that we could save time by living a slower pace of life. Yet that’s exactly what happens in a 15-minute city. And Canary Wharf is living proof.
A HEALTHY CITY ENVIRONMENT
Why is the car still king? Cities have only just woken up to the wisdom in appreciating birdsong from biodiverse green spaces as much as the ringing of cash registers.
Ever the early bird when it comes to recognising what people want, Canary Wharf took this route long ago. The Estate’s lush greenery hits you the moment you step into tranquil spaces like Jubilee Park, or duck beneath the rainforest-like canopy of Crossrail Place Roof Garden. A quick trip over the bridge to Wood Wharf and you’re met with wide wooden boardwalks adjacent to 10 George Street and 8 Water Street, Vertus’ two other buildings. There’s an unmistakeable sense of calm here from being waterside. 8 Water Street residents also benefit from their own private landscaped garden – a tranquil reprieve they can escape to for a moment of valuable headspace. The quality, expanse and diversity of all these natural spaces is thanks to The Group’s determination to build a sustainable city, not just a successful one.
Vertus residents express a feeling of finally finding room to breathe here. This isn’t just imagined either – constant monitoring has proven to show the air in Canary Wharf to be cleaner than anywhere else in Central London.
This kind of ecological variety is vital, not just for the planet, but for us. These are the spaces where we form friendships, connect with nature and stay healthy and active – the green thread knitting all this rich, connected experience together.
A STRONGER SENSE OF COMMUNITY
Mastermind of the 15-minute city model, Carlos Moreno, wants his brainchild to re-mantle the small city community that rolling urban expansion has squeezed out of our lives.
But localised lifestyles are only one front in the battle to build a stronger sense of community. There must also be a concentration of culture that brings people here in the first place. Art, exhibitions, sports events, live music, open-air theatre, colourful artistic collaborations... the humble food pop-up... these are the magnets that pull people together.
Canary Wharf residents can cap off the working week at the ‘Sun Pavilion’ – Morag Myerscough’s tribute to the joyous effects of bright colour and pattern in Montgomery Square – before starting Saturday over at Columbus Courtyard for a quick round of mini golf. They may then choose to catch the last few sets of the Wimbledon Quarter Final at the Summer Screens ahead of winding down with a loop of the Summer Lights exhibition. And that’s just one weekend in July.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING
The 15-minute city is about creating cities that respond and develop to meet our needs, not the other way around. It champions the vicinity over the city centre.
A destination for everyone with cuisine from everywhere and a home for every style, interest and ambition, Canary Wharf is a city’s worth of opportunity on one secure Estate.
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