Recently, a 305m tulip tower with leisure, tourist and education facilities has obtained planning approval by the City of London Corporation. The proposed scheme will be located on 20 Bury Street, beside the Gherkin Tower and other tall buildings. Locally in Newcastle, a 82m tall building proposal in Rutherford Street has granted permission back in 08 May 2017, which comprises of residential, commercial and tourism facilities. Despite these proposals are controversial and often raised huge oppositions, the trend of erecting new tall buildings appears to be continued in major cities in the UK.
Generally speaking, most of the ‘new’ tall building schemes have often come from redeveloping existing ones that were built in the 1960s, on sites that were damaged from war or industrial areas that did not survive from the period of Thatcherism. The architectural design, quality and expression are strong and at the time (also known as Brutalism) (Glancey, 2014). This could be seen from the block-like and raw concrete construction from the former Scottish Life House development in Jesmond, which is transforming into a mixed-use residential, hotel and office scheme.
Despite the controversy and reluctance to construct tall buildings in locations that do not fit in with the existing structures and the wider context among cities, new skyscrapers continue to emerge in redundant dockland and industrial areas within Core Cities in the UK. The main argument for that is often the economic benefits outweigh the associated harms. Yet, due to its built form, a tall building has an impact on the skyline, heritage assets and landmarks etc. This could be seen in the Leadenhall Building (also known as Cheese Grater) in London. To secure planning permission for the proposal, the architects had to look for a solution to reduce the impact of the skyline by the ‘lean’ and ‘angled’ built form (Fairs, 2013), therefore not to obscure the protected view of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Given the importance of the heritage and planning context within the UK, tall building development will continue to be a controversial and challenging topic. Also, negative perceptions still exist for people living in a skyscraper (Turner & Wigfield, 2017). Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see whether this is set to change with the pressure for housing, and the change in attitude from the younger generations for high rise living.
BBC (2018) ‘Tulip’ Tower Planned for London’s Skyline. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46259419 (Accessed 05 April 2019).
Fairs, M. (2013) Office buildings tend to be very boring – Richard Rogers. Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2013/08/05/movie-richard-rogers-the-cheesegrater-the-leadenhall-building/ (Accessed 05 April 2019).
Glancey, J. (2014) Brutalism: How Unpopular Buildings Came Back In Fashion. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20140828-why-brutal-is-beautiful (Accessed 05 April 2019).
GT3 Architects (2016) Render Sandford Road (Ref. 810-01). Available at: https://publicaccessapplications.newcastle.gov.uk/online-applications/ (Accessed 05 April 2019).
Richards, S. (2012) Scottish Life House and Sandyford House. Available at: https://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/04/66/00/4660002_19697d79.jpg (Accessed 05 April 2019).
RSH+P (2014) The Leadenhall Building. Available at: https://www.rsh-p.com/assets/uploads_large/3510_N8681a.jpg (Accessed 05 April 2019).
Turner, R. & Wigfield, A. (2017) It’s Time To Recognise How Harmful High-Rise Living Can Be For Residents. Available at: http://theconversation.com/its-time-to-recognise-how-harmful-high-rise-living-can-be-for-residents-87209 (Accessed 05 April 2019).