>>>London's skyline gets the Manhattan treatment

London’s skyline gets the Manhattan treatment

Desde las cúpulas de las catedrales hasta los imponentes rascacielos, el ‘skyline’ de Londres es conocido en el mundo entero. ¿Qué es lo próximo que le espera al paisaje londinense?
T
he Great Fire of London blazed through the city 350 years ago, and images from that fateful year of 1666 show just how much the metropolis has changed over time. However, just as striking are pictures of the city skyline taken just a couple of decades ago. For it’s only in the past few years that, flush with foreign investment and a new sense of swagger, London has abandoned its English reserve and followed the likes of Manhattan and Hong Kong in learning to love the skyscraper.
Architect Renzo Piano was inspired by the church spires that once dominated London

Protecting London's best views

Architects aren't completely free– as the designers of the Cheesegrater found out. The building is triangular so that the dome of St Paul's isn't hidden from view. Rules are also in place to ensure the view of St Paul's from Parliament Hill in Hampstead, and from Hampton Court Palace, more than ten miles away, remain intact.

In his 2015 book, Context and the Genius of Place, Eric Parry described how “an orgy of tall buildings will transform and arguably overwhelm London.” And undoubtedly, the city skyline has changed dramatically over the past few years, with modern-day celebrity architects (or “starchitects”) joining Sir Christopher Wren in making their mark on the capital. However, while Sir Christopher’s buildings were designed to glorify God, the modern day marvels sanctify the god of Mammon, with almost all of them found in the City, London’s financial heartland.
It was 30 St Mary Axe, otherwise known as the Gherkin that really ushered in this new era of skyscrapers. Designed by Norman Foster, it towers 180 metres above the City streets. Unlike the bland buildings of the past, where simply being tall was deemed good enough, it’s the shape of the Gherkin that really stands out, curving outwards and then closing in again to a peak, just like a giant bullet.
Undercroft is to be built on the site of a medieval maypole
Foto: Eric Parry Architects

Tables and barstools with views

Office workers and bankers aren't the only ones who get to enjoy the views from up on high. New skyscrapers are required to have public spaces, even if these are pricey bars or restaurants. The Sky Garden atop the Walkie Talkie, and the View from the Shard are among the hottest venues in London right now.

Sitting alongside the Gherkin are two more buildings that have broken the mould. The 160-metre Walkie Talkie looks like it could topple at any time, a giant top-heavy mass of polished metal and glass. Though it divides opinion – it infamously won the 2015 Carbuncle Cup, awarded to examples of poor design – there’s no denying it holds a central place in the London skyline. So too does the Cheesegrater, the triangular masterpiece of the architects Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners. Situated right next to St Paul’s its 48 floors are given over to offices, the ideal solution for a crowded city where expanding outwards is simply not an option.
Eric Parry believes building upwards can reclaim the street level for the public
Foto:Eric Parry Architects
This race to beat Manhattan at its own game shows no sign of drawing to an end anytime soon. Standing on the other side of the Thames to the City, the Shard is, a menacing angular skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano. At 309 metres, it’s Britain’s tallest building, though it too continues to divide opinion.
Dozens more giants are due to rise up over the next few years, among them Parry’s own addition to the London skyline. At 295 metres, 1 Undecroft will be the tallest tower in the Square Mile. But it will be so much more than this. Parry’s designs will see the lobby located 12 metres above ground, freeing up the pavement and creating a new public space, effectively reimagining the financial district.
Will this latest wave of new buildings sate London’s lust for the skyscraper, or will the orgy of construction continue? As New Yorkers realized long ago, “they aren’t building any more land”, so it looks like it will be a case of onwards and upwards for London’s iconic skyline.

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