London’s tallest buildings have always been its most controversial and as the city moves upwards explore the arguments that claim they are either enhancing or endangering the capital’s unique urban character
In the Shard London may be home to western Europe’s tallest building but the insertion of skyscrapers into this historic low-rise city has been a prolonged post-war enterprise that has been fraught with friction and conflict. Ever since the first commercial towers in the City started to threaten the almost 300-year dominance of the dome of St. Paul’s on London’s skyline in the 1960s, the capital has struggled to find a planning solution that embraces the drama and exhilaration tall buildings can provide but also protects the priceless heritage value of the city’s historic fabric. Along the way there have been triumphs and disasters. Landmark towers like the Gherkin have almost single-handedly resuscitated the popularity of high-rises yet towers like the so-called Walkie Talkie have decimated the historic character of allegedly protected surrounding areas. Today London is no closer to finding a workable compromise and while individually some of its high-rises provide stunning examples of contemporary skyscraper design by some of the world’s foremost architects, collectively they fuel the wider urban debate about whether height and heritage can ever successfully co-exist.
WALK START LOCATION: Liverpool Street Station (Bishopsgate Main Entrance) / Map
WALK ENDS: London Bridge Station