Earlier this year we brought you our 2-part report on the huge redevelopment zone of Battersea/Nine Elms/Vauxhall. Looking back at the scale model of that development shows a large number of high towers along the river near Vauxhall Bridge. An article in the Evening Standard last month revealed that many leading figures in architecture and urban planning are concerned about how London’s skyline may be adversely affected by this profusion of towers, particularly affecting views along the Thames, and want the mayor to review all high-rise developments.
Nobody would disagree that we need more housing, but what should it look like and how much are we prepared to change the appearance of our city? Many have suggested a return to building ‘mansion blocks’ – five or six storey buildings similar to the flats facing Battersea Park for instance. The debate will rumble on, but in the meantime SLB looks at the high buildings we currently have on this side of the river.
1. The Shard – 301m London Bridge
The tallest building in the UK and the EU but surprisingly, not the tallest structure; the Emley Moor transmitting station in West Yorkshire is 29m higher. Comprised of 87 storeys, the Shard is a multi-purpose building including offices, shops, a hotel, apartments and restaurants.
2. St.George Wharf Tower – 181m Vauxhall
Part of the Nine Elms – Vauxhall re-development, this completely residential tower has 52 floors and 223 flats. A tragic incident occurred during its construction when a helicopter hit the building’s crane on a foggy morning in January 2013, killing the pilot and a passing pedestrian.
3. Strata – 147m Elephant & Castle
Notable for its three wind turbines at the top of the building, Strata has had mixed reviews in the design and construction world. I pass this building frequently but have rarely seen the turbines working. Do they actually generate any power?
4. Tower Wing, Guy’s Hospital – 143m London Bridge
The second tallest hospital building in the world is dwarfed by the Shard next door. Finished in 1974, it is part of the historic hospital, founded in 1721 by Thomas Guy who, intriguingly, made his fortune in the South Sea Bubble, proving that timing is indeed everything!
5. Shell Centre – 107m Waterloo
Home of Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell, it was constructed on land cleared for the 1951 Festival of Britain and was the UK’s highest building on its completion in 1961.
Note: If we listed all structures, not just buildings, we would need to include the Crystal Palace Transmitter – 219m, the Croydon Transmitter – 152m, the London Eye – 135m and the chimneys of Battersea Power Station – 113m.
Should we build more towers to provide the housing we need?
Let us know what you think.