Sunday, 31 July 2011

In a world of ones and zeros, are you a zero or...The One?

Rogers Stirk & Harbour's 'Neo' on Bankside, central London.

Here's a picture of the Millenium Dome, by Richard Rogers when his firm was still the Richard Rogers Partnership. The best building never to have had a good word said for it?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Slenderness is the holy grail of the tall building and here in London we are, it seems, destined to never achieve any.

Conventional wisdom lays the blame for this partly at the mouldering door of old St Paul's Cathedral which, from beyond the pre-industrial grave, restricts development of quite large areas of the City so that we can continue to get a good view of the big church.

The fact that it was itself the tallest building in town until 1962 (if Wikipedia is to be believed) says a lot about Londoners' enthusiasm for building high, and the tall buildings we do have tend to be disappointingly squat. Even the new giants (Shard and Heron Tower as well as the still-to-be-built Pinnacle) are not truly slender when compared, for example, with the paradimatic World Trade Centre.

Or, to bring ourselves up to date, the magnificent International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong:
We do of course have the wonderful Barbican towers which look slender from a lot of angles....
I'd never really thought how aptly named the Barbican is and how well the martial, medieval association suits Brutalism generally.  In their relative isolation on the skyline the three towers are somewhat sentinel like.
The Natwest Tower also has it going on...
A Richard Seifert building properly known as Tower 42 completed in 1980.
Centre Point, also by Seifert which looks pretty slender from one angle only.

Being brave and selfless folk, architects have come up with ingenious ways to make a squattie look more slender...the Euston Tower for example disguises it's big fat footprint by presenting as a series of conjoined slimmies.

 Cesar Pelli could only facet the corners of the irretrievably stocky One Canada Square:
At 235m it is tall.  Just doesn't look it.  To the right is Foster's 8 Canada Square.
10 Upper Bank Street (by KPF, architects of ICC in Hong Kong) is really a fat tomb-stone but looks nice and skinny from the side.

And saving the tallest (completed building) until last:

The Heron Tower, completed 2011, 242m high, architect Kohn Pederson Fox (again).