The Future Skyscrapers of London
Author: Richard Evans
I noted this week in the construction press that the cogs have slowly started turning again on several of the previously “on hold” high-rise tower projects in London and thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the weird and wonderful schemes that are currently either at construction, pre-construction or at general tender stages.
The Shard, set to become the tallest building in Europe by 2012, has been one of the most talked about construction projects in the UK for the last three years. With work originally set to start in 2005, the Shard had been plagued by funding issues until a consortium of Qatari investors took a controlling stake in the project in 2008. The concrete core of the building is now well under construction (some 30 odd floors high) as Mace looks to drive their fixed-price landmark scheme forwards. Apparently its designs originate from a rough sketch by Renzo Piano on the back of a restaurant menu in 2000 and a decade or so later, the Shard looks set to become London’s latest tourist attraction. It certainly looks pretty spectacular!
This summer should also see the first visible growth of the “Pinnacle” tower, with the concrete core of this iconic project set to commence construction in June/July 2010. This project in the heart of the city will eventually be the UK’s second largest building upon it’s expected completion in 2012/2013. Also known as the “Helter Skelter”, the Pinnacle is likely to have a similar impact to the “Gherkin” as it’s unique design should stand out across from London’s busy skyline. The Pinnacle will contain over 2,000 sq/m of solar panelling, more than any other building in the UK and will contain a mixture of commercial offices, restaurants and retail units.
Interestingly this week and perhaps a sign of the slowly improving commercial market, Land Securities announced that they were seeking a joint venture partner to launch the postponed 36-storey 20 Fenchurch Street tower scheme in the city. Also known as the “Walkie Talkie Tower”, the bizarrely shaped building was placed on hold due to funding problems caused by the global recession, but the developer has now announced that they plan to start on site in January 2011 with a proposed completion date of 2015. This certainly sounds extremely ambitious, but Land Securities are promising further developments towards the end of the year.
Another major scheme thwarted by the financial meltdown has been the 122 Leadenhall Street development, also known as the “Cheese-Grater”. Work appeared to be steaming ahead, with all demolition stages complete and the site cleared by the end of 2008 until funding issues halted all progress. Investors are still being sought for the distinctive wedge-shaped tower.
London’s skyline certainly looks set for some drastic changes over the next few years, but its worth noting that other large towers are also in the offing with the news announced this week that Mace will construct the £200m “Baby Shard” (adjacent to the Shard) and Sir Robert McAlpine announced on the new Milton Court Heron Tower scheme. The good news is that this is likely to have a large impact on construction recruitment across the South East and the opportunity for individuals to work on landmark schemes. What do you think about these schemes and would they be the types of projects that you would like to get involved in? Do you like the look of these buildings? As always I’m interested in hearing from you!