When Battersea Almost Got A Giant Sex Toy Skyscraper

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 68 months ago
When Battersea Almost Got A Giant Sex Toy Skyscraper

The 'Erotic Gherkin' was not the first proposal for a phallic-looking skyscraper in London. In 1998 — five years before Norman Foster's pickled penis was completed — there was Green Bird.

At least, there was supposed to be. Green Bird never took flight.

Image: Future Systems

The implausible sausage of a building — put forward by Prague-based firm Future Systems — did itself no favours by appearing neither green, nor avian. It certainly did itself no favours by looking like a big dildo, easing itself into the Battersea firmament.

Even the most prudish couldn't fail to see the similarities between Green Bird and something you'd find in the basement of Harmony. It wasn't just in the shape, but that distinctive 'flop', as if it were cast from rubber, not steel and glass. The shape was in fact supposed to "reduce wind resistance and structural stress." Green Bird would also have had a 'diagrid steel lattice' wrapped around it; always use protection, kids.

Images: Future Systems

At a height of 442m and 83 floors, Green Bird was hardly something you could hide at the back of a sock drawer. Had it been built, the combination of offices, residences and hotels would have stood 262m taller than the Gherkin. (That size difference in inches, FYI, is 10,315.)

A reputed architectural firm, Future Systems went on to have its design for Lord's Cricket Ground's Media Centre commissioned. But Green Bird was not its only London gamble that didn't pay off. Their Routemaster, which looked like it had escaped from an episode of In The Night Garden was spiked too:

Image: Future Systems

And in support of that decision, minimal research reveals that Future Systems pretty much took another of its designs — Birmingham Bullring's Selfridges — and bunged wheels on it.

Founder, Jan Kaplický, died that same year, and Future Systems folded soon after.

Those who feel they've been cheated of a life-long giggle every time they gaze on London's horizon and don't see Green Bird — do not despair; the Spire will soon rise on the Isle of Dogs as a giant cock and balls.

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Last Updated 19 January 2017