New Skyscraper Exhibition Looks At Changing Skyline

Updated model of Canary Wharf/Wood Wharf showing proposed development on the Isle of Dogs.

Updated model of Canary Wharf/Wood Wharf showing proposed development on the Isle of Dogs.

Over 230 new towers are planned for London. Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? Neither. It’s a nuanced and complex thing, with both pros and cons, as a new exhibition makes clear.

London’s Growing… Up opened today at New London Architecture, a wonderful hub of discussion about the built environment, close to Tottenham Court Road. NLA recently conducted a survey into high-rise building in London. The results, and their implications, have made headlines all week, and are now explored further in this free exhibition.

The story begins with a short history of tall buildings in the capital, from the relatively modest 55 Broadway to the mega-development at Canary Wharf. We’re then given some stats about people’s attitudes to tall buildings. Survey results show that Londoners are ambivalent to towers: many love them, many loathe them, while some take a ‘depends’ point of view. 36% of people say the Gherkin is London’s best tower, while 22% prefer the Shard. These are but two of many insights.

The next section looks at the complicated planning process, which involves contributions from local government, councils, heritage bodies and even the Civil Aviation Authority. This section is perhaps the most interesting, teasing out some of the pressures on local councils to approve tall buildings — a subject we will revisit in a future article.

Model of Wood Wharf.

Model of Wood Wharf.

We also get plenty of information on the 236 towers highlighted in the report, all of which are over 20 storeys. Some are merely proposed, others are approaching completion. A whopping 80% are residential towers, many of which are luxury, unaffordable developments. About a quarter are in just one borough: Tower Hamlets. Plenty of architectural models are on show, too.

Every Londoner should visit this exhibition. It not only gives a glimpse of what London is becoming, but also encourages thought and debate. We particularly like the idea of a publicly accessible internet 3-D model of the capital, to allow Londoners to better scrutinise plans. For now, you can finish your visit by exploring NLA’s superb physical model of the city, which has been updated to include the 236 towers.

London’s Growing… Up is at New London Architecture, 26 Store Street, London WC1E 7BT until 12 June. Entrance is free.

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  • Luke Treherne

    I really like the Herzog and de Meuron tower at wood wharf

  • Adam

    Fantastic to see London moving forward and what people have to remember is that whilst these towers may not be ‘affordable’ the contributions to local borough councils is allowing them to build and improve housing in the capital.

  • m

    The contribution to wellbeing, equality and plain dam eye sores is questionable. Perhaps we could look at the huge number of empty buildings that developers and landlords are sitting on first, higher tax on second homes and from over seas buyers before we destroy the London skyline?

    • Scott Bailey

      The problem is that people think you can solve the decades old housing crisis without building new buildings. Even intelligent people.

      • HHGeek

        Another problem is the discrepancy between VAT free new build & VAT payment on renovation. Discouraging to renovators, to say the least.

  • Mat

    I look forward to seeing the model showing the other 236 tower blocks to be built in central(ish) London over the next few years. Thank’s for the heads up.