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Passivhaus set to reach Canary Wharf heights

A new development set to rise on the edge of towering Canary Wharf is equally tall in ambitions for building performance as it is in physical stature.

Canary Wharf Towers: 2 Trafalgar Way. © Apt/ Urbanest

Planning has been granted for a triple-tower student accommodation complex in London’s Canary Wharf. Located on a 0.4ha vacant site at 2 Trafalgar Way, the scheme for student accommodation provider Urbanest, designed by architect Apt, consists of three 28-, 36- and 46-storey towers linked by a 4-storey podium, housing:

  • 1,672 student bedrooms.
  • 80 residential apartments.
  • 4,000m2 commercial space.
  • Indoor soft play-space for children and retail space.
  • 10th floor skybridge connecting two of the tallest towers providing student amenity spaces.

There is hope that the commercial office areas will support several university departments and provide space for start-up ventures that will enjoy cross-fertilisation with academia. 

Our vision for 2 Trafalgar Way was to create a vertical campus, where living, studying, and working co-exist, serving to create an enriching environment which will extend into the ground-floor public realm and beyond.

 James Ewen, Apt project leader

Key Stats

  • No. Units: 1672 student bedrooms & 80 residential apartments, plus commercial & retail space.
  • Area: Approx. 67,000m2 GEA
  • Build start date: Expected early 2022.
  • Completion: Expected August 2025.
  • Contract value: £220 million mixed-use scheme.
Canary Wharf Towers: 2 Trafalgar Way. © Apt/ Urbanest


Passivhaus credentials will provide all occupants with excellent internal comfort. Tall buildings lend themselves well to meeting Passivhaus thanks to favourable form factors. Generally, the better the form factor, the less insulation is required to satisfy the standard. However, airtightness detailing, thermal bridging, ventilation & shading strategies all need great care & attention. Certification for a scheme with several uses, at such a scale, will pose interesting challenges that we look forward to following.

Once the proposal is Passivhaus accredited - it may become Europe's largest Passivhaus development to date. It would also become London's first Passivhaus certified high-rise. BREEAM Outstanding standard is also being targeted.


We’re very excited about the scheme’s sustainability credentials. Delivering the largest Passivhaus certified building in Europe is a massive undertaking and a testament to our commitment to creating the sort of places and spaces future generations want to live and work in. We have worked extremely hard over the past few years to create something exceptional that not only responds to the resilient demand we are seeing but is also a beautifully designed, and sustainable collection of buildings. We look forward to starting construction and proposed opening in time for the 2025/26 academic year.”

Anthony Mellalieu, Development Director, Urbanest


Canary Wharf Towers: 2 Trafalgar Way. © Apt/ Urbanest


Key Team

  • Client: Urbanest

  • Architect: Apt

  • Main Contractor: TBC

  • Passivhaus designer: Henriksen Studio

  • Façade engineer: FMDC

  • Passivhaus Certifier: MosArt

  • Planning: Gerald Eve

  • Structural Engineers: Walsh

Aerial site view. Canary Wharf Towers: 2 Trafalgar Way. © Apt/ Urbanest


The scheme occupies a prominent position alongside the A1261 Aspen Way, a major arterial route. Proposals at ground level include enhancements to the public realm, delivering improved planting, pedestrian and cyclist connectivity, and 1,500 cycle spaces across the site.


Canary Wharf Towers: 2 Trafalgar Way. © Apt/ Urbanest


Construction is due to begin early next year so that the project is ready to open in time for the 2025/26 academic year.


Further Information

2 Trafalgar Way

Passivhaus for Educational Buildings

High-rise Passivhaus 

Previous PHT story: Passivhaus Masterclass aims high - 22nd May 2018

30th September 2021

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