The capital’s skyline has been very much in the news during the first few days of 2018.
The City Corporation has released a series of remarkable CGIs showing what it thinks the Square Mile’s skyline may look like in 2026. The jostling group of towers – some already built, some under construction and some still on the drawing board – speak volumes about how attitudes to development in the City have changed in recent decades.
Thirty years ago, relatively modest developments such as Alban Gate on London Wall or Minster Court in Mincing Lane (you can just see the latter’s ‘steeple’ dwarfed in the middle of the image above) were the subject of huge planning deliberation and caution.
The advent of Canary Wharf and the competition for occupiers it brought, changed all that. The City started taking a more pro-development stance which has given us buildings such as The Gherkin, Walkie Talkie, and the Cheesegrater (somewhere along the way nicknames replaced the best that marketing agencies could come up with).
This atmosphere also paved the way for The Shard which – for the foreseeable future – will continue to stand head and shoulders above everything else on the South Bank.
Meanwhile, over at Canary Wharf, an announcement last week showed how times have also changed there. When the massive urban regeneration scheme launched. the emphasis was very much on wooing banks and financial services businesses. In contrast, Brookfield has just said that it will retain around one million square feet across three new residential towers on the wharf to rent out as its first foray into the London private rented sector.
The final skyline ‘sign of times’ was over in Kensington where it was announced that the legendary Roof Gardens on top of the Derry & Toms building are to close their gates. An iconic party venue in the ‘loadsamoney’ eighties, the gardens flourished when people tended to party ‘up the West End’ whereas their contemporary counterparts are more likely to be found in Hoxton, Shoreditch and Dalston.
It seems that London’s skyline continues to tell a vivid story about where the capital is heading.