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A blot on the landscape?

There was a time not too long ago when St Paul’s Cathedral was the tallest building within view of the River Thames. The wonderful piece of architecture famously designed by Sir Christopher Wren, took pride of place on the riverside skyline with the steeples of nearby churches standing in deference to their big brother.

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Photo by Theo Antoniou

Then along came the NatWest Tower in the City of London that took nine years to build from 1971 and the gloves were off.

Further to the east Canary Wharf Building topped this when completed in 1990, but this was far enough out of Central London to not interfere with London’s historic skyline. For twenty years the Canary Wharf tower remained as London’s tallest building.

This then appeared to be the template for further skyscrapers, creating a new financial district similar to La Defense in Paris. Like the sensible and sensitive Parisians we would protect our iconic river view in the capital.

Indeed, the likes of Citigroup, HSBC and Barclays erected vast monoliths alongside Canary Wharf to replace their scattered central offices, creating a mini Manhattan in the process.

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Photo by Theo Antoniou

Things started to change in the new millennium with the planners seemingly approving every project submitted both north and south of the River. We now have the likes of the Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe) , the Walkie Talkie (20 Fenchurch Street) and the Cheesegrater (122 Leadenhall Street) to give them their nicknames.

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Then along came the big daddy of them all in the Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building, which was completed in 2010. It is 95 storeys and 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) high and can be seen for miles around in all directions.

There are others either part way built or in the pipeline, the City seemingly hell bent on reaching for the skies with little thought for the aesthetics.

You can probably tell that I am not a great fan of London’s ‘new’ skyline. Enough is enough in my opinion and I would certainly advocate no more high building within eyeshot of the Thames in Central London.

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Photo by Theo Antoniou

What do you think – the taller the better or stay low?

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8 comments

  1. From the first time I went to London (2003) to the last time (2015) I was really impressed by how it changed with all the modern and tall buildings. I don’t particularly like or dislike them, but I actually think that London can handle the mix… though to be honest I’m always a big fan of the old and original buildings 😀
    Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes

    1. if they stop now it will be just about ok

  2. To be honest, I consider London to be a bit of a hodge podgey mess from start to finish, so a few more weird buildings plumped wherever are neither here nor there to me. I also quite enjoy the inventive names. That said, I lived the other end of London to them, where all we could see was a suitably modestly sized shard and the OXO tower lit up at night. I might feel differently if I were confronted with them regularly.

    1. I like the Oxo tower and Sea Containers House. I just wish they would keep all the tall ones in Canary Wharf.

  3. Wander Mum · · Reply

    I don’t mind some of the newer skyscrapers like The Shard and cheese grater – and the views over London are amazing. I do think we need to have a good mix of old and new buildings in London to help keep our global appeal but, I agree, there are probably enough high rises for the time being! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  4. I do rather like the Shard and the Gherkin (although I could live without the walkie talkie) and there’s something about the mix of old and new which seems to work so well in London. I’d hate to think all the fabulous historic buildings were completely overshadowed by endless high rise skyscrapers though, so a few is definitely enough. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  5. London’s a city that embraces changes maybe too often. I like some of the new skyscrapers but I do agree that enough’s enough. #monday escapes

  6. Undoubtedly , the new constructions are changing our beloved London skyline ….
    I think it’s happening in every city all over the world , though sometimes it’s difficult to be accepted….

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