Isle of Dogs, London
Client: Kentish Homes Limited
Date: Completed 1988
In 1985, Canary Wharf in London Docklands was still a project on paper. Kentish Homes bought an adjacent site and were persuaded by CZWG that perhaps its development should respond to the anticipated scale of its neighbour. The LDDC were also persuaded and Cascades, a twenty storey apartment building, came to fruition at a time when high rise was still a discredited building form for residential purposes, and two or three storeys was the norm. It attempted to overcome the prejudice by not floating on galegenerating pilotis, having a complex form that responded to context, enjoying the thrill of sheer height, a single entrance on a street and communal facilities for its occupants.
‘Yet these do not catch the overall authority of the building, brooding sphinx-like at the water’s edge. One returns to the secret chambers of the pyramid, metaphorical of secret chambers of the mind, now exposed. But the Pharaonic references are not inapposite: monumental construction exploding up to the stars – the concrete core of the lift shafts went up in an astonishing three weeks, the entire building up in eighteen months, complete with high tech fire escape and cantilevered balconies, reminding us that the hunger for earthly powers is once again ready to be released.’