The planned One Undershaft has a new look... and a new record-breaking height.
You'd think that Covid, the downturn and the rise of working from home would have put the halters on tall office buildings. Not a bit of it. The City of London continues to grow denser and loftier with new projects, and One Undershaft will be king of the cluster. Indeed, it might just pip the Shard.
The tower, planned for the site currently occupied by the Aviva building, next to the Cheesegrater, has been in the works for years (since 2015, in fact). Now, its promoters have submitted revised plans by Eric Parry Architects that would give the giant a new profile and an extra floor.
Gone is the trademark cross-bracing that gave the original scheme a distinctive appearance. But the biggest change is the shape. The tower will now be broader at its base, gradually stepping back, telescope-like, as it rises. This will increase lettable office space by 20%. Further, an extra floor on top would push the building's height towards 310 metres. Ian Visits has crunched the numbers and reckons that the revised height will beat the Shard by just 6cm... which is sure to invite the "mine's bigger than yours" phallic symbolism japes.
The bit that most normal Londoners will care about, though, is what happens at 11th floor level. Here, we'll see a wraparound 'public' garden with what's been described as a 'tongue' protruding out over the roadway. (Sadly pointing in the wrong direction to lick the 'erotic gherkin' of 30 St Mary Axe.) We're also promised a floor of educational stuff, overseen by the London Museum (late, the Museum of London).
And, yes, there will be a public viewing gallery near the top, adding to those already present in two neighbouring skyscrapers. It's getting very crowded in the skies.
The original plans already had planning consent, but we now need to wait and see if these significant modifications will pass the planning committees. Even if they do, it'll be somewhere around the end of the decade before we can expect to bask on the tongue, or visit London's newest highest viewing platform.