2014 looks set to be a good year for London’s skyscrapers. High demand for office space and office-to-residential conversions elsewhere are putting the spotlight back on high-rise construction.
Indeed, the demand for office space has already sparked rumours that work on the stalled Pinnacle project will finally restart this year. But while plans for a revised version of the building (which was halted several years ago due to lack of pre-let interest) have been submitted, no final decision has yet been reached on the new design.
Meanwhile, the Walkie Talkie may also soon be putting an end to its woes, as plans for a sun shield – in the form of “fins” – are in place. The skyscraper – due for completion this year – hit the headlines in summer 2013 when it was discovered that sunrays reflected from the surface of the building reached such high temperatures that they were capable of melting the bodywork of nearby cars. Since then, the developers have been working on a solution to the problem so that the skyscraper can launch in 2014 as originally planned.
The skyscraper popularity test
There has even been good news for The Shard, after a recent poll revealed that it is Londoners’ second favourite skyscraper, after the Gherkin. While admiration from onlookers isn’t quite the same as securing paying tenants, it may help to boost the tower’s appeal and spark new interest in it as an office location.
The Cheesegrater claimed third place in the skyscraper popularity poll, with One Canada Square in fourth and Strata Tower 29 in fifth. Perhaps unsurprising after last summer’s debacle, the Walkie Talkie could only claim seventh on the list, although it still ranked well above Heron Tower and Centre Point. The latter building is soon to be converted from offices to residential apartments.
The skyscraper backlash?
However, while skyscrapers address a shortage of office space, the boom in high-rise construction is causing concern for some. The result is the Skyline Campaign, a group which boasts many high-profile members from the worlds of architecture and design. Their concern relates specifically to the lack of planning which they believe may result in many poorly designed buildings and an unsightly skyline for the capital.
In the face of pressure from the group, the London Mayor has agreed to consider a skyline commission to help safeguard London’s views for the future. And that may change the fortunes of City skyscrapers yet again.
London skyscrapers – are they a success story? Does there need to be tighter restrictions on their construction?