What is it with Londoners and tall buildings? The history of 1960s council block failures, underwritten by social problems, faulty lifts and dank staircases? Our otherwise low-rise historic environment? Or is it a deep distrust of foreign investors parking their money in luxury housing they will never inhabit?
Whatever the reason, tall buildings make for an emotive subject that has caught the imagination of the public and design fraternity alike, especially vividly since last NLQ and the launch of NLA’s blockbuster exhibition
on the subject. So it’s only natural that this issue reaches for the sky to explore that phenomenon further.
In addition to the Tall Buildings Special in which we cover some of the many events that have spearheaded this programme, looking abroad as well as at home for lessons and paths forward, we interview one of the main image-makers in this arena, Hayes Davidson, for its take on all things view corridor and cluster. We journey south to look at a zone where tall buildings are considered appropriate and will be a likely addition to a place now being catalysed largely through Westfield
and Hammerson’s decision to invest
in the Whitgift Centre – Croydon.
Our New Londoner Jo Negrini, fresh from her spell at Newham, explains how her Olympic-like vision will translate to a place which has seen
so many false dawns in the past. The
Leadenhall Tower has been received
as a beacon of high quality among a sea of inferior schemes, and we talk
to its architect Graham Stirk about
his role in a practice that is working
at the top of its game – Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Still in the City, another trio – this time headed by Sir Nicholas Kenyon – are seeking to make the most of Crossrail and the cultural elements around the Barbican, itself another of the key tall buildings to
have successfully negotiated the 70s, concrete and high design ideals.
Elsewhere in the magazine we look
at public art as it has been used to good effect by The Crown Estate, and, in a new feature we’re calling Project Preview we take an extended look at an interesting project that is set to rework an important 60s estate – the Aylesbury, by HTA. Our building review this issue looks at another reworking – this time of the former home of the BBC’s World Service and John Robertson Architects’ Aldwych Quarter scheme. And there is the usual mix of capital ideas, opinion pieces and market summaries besides.
Ultimately, with over 230 tall buildings set to come to London’s skyline, there
is a sense in which the horse has already bolted. But that’s not to say that that those horses can’t be as well-groomed, fit-for-purpose, and popular as possible. The debate will continue.
Enjoy the issue.
David Taylor, Editor