Animal Eyes: Re-design Canary Wharf

A quick history of Canary Wharf and biodiversity

Hundreds of years ago, the site where Canary Wharf sits were rural and wild marshlands. By the 1800’s it had become the West India Docks, one of the largest docks in the world. 

From this point on, biodiversity began declining. By the 1950s, the Natural History Museum declared the Thames ‘biologically dead’ due to pollution.

In 1980, the old docks were regenerated into the Canary Wharf we know today, a financial centre in London. The area has started to look at ways to increase biodiversity, such as the Crossrail Green Roof

In this activity you get to design your own invention to increase animal biodiversity in the Canary Wharf area!

Step by step

Step 1

Discover which animals and species live or have previously lived in the area.

To do this you might use the internet, books, libraries or museums.

Some animals travel long distances, so some names for exploring the area include ‘Canary Wharf’, ‘The Docklands’, ‘Isle of Dogs’, ‘Tower Hamlets’, ‘The Thames’, and even just ‘London’.

Did you know that…

Seals, Seahorses, Black Swans and Whales have all been spotted in the London Thames!

Step 2

Which species are your favourites?

Select one and find out more about them.

What food does it like to eat? Where does it normally live? Does it stay in the same place all year, or travel long distances? Is it endangered? If so, what is causing it problems?

You can use the PDF sheet attached to help you think of some more questions.

Step 3

Find a picture of Canary Wharf and its open spaces. You could look up pictures online, visit and take photos, or use the template drawings attached.

Now, pretend you are your chosen animal and look carefully at the picture. In the eyes of your species, is this a nice place to live? What things might you like or dislike in this place? What would you like to see more of?

Examples might be more areas with bugs to eat, more trees, or areas to climb and perch.

Step 4

Here’s the fun part…

Using your picture of Canary Wharf, design something to go in the space that your species would love! Draw, collage or write your idea onto your picture.

Could it be slippy slides to help eels cross barriers in the Thames? Or maybe a giant flower bed for Great Tiger Moths to eat? The more imaginative the better!

In mine I have designed a rocky ring to go on top of a Canary Wharf building – perfect for Peregrine Falcons to dive from!

Step 5

Now, have a go at thinking how you would make your design invention in real life.

What size would it be? What materials would you use? Could you be inspired by nature? What would make your invention better for the environment and species as a whole?

Find some items in your house to represent your ideas and have a go at making a structure of your invention.

Upload your ideas !

Holly is Sustainability Learning Coordinator at the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), who aim to ‘radically improve the sustainability of the built environment’. She is an artist in her spare time: @hollycampbellartstuff.

This activity was supported by Canary Wharf Group.

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