Extra White Glass
April 15, 2003 4:31 AM   Subscribe

Southwark Council is planning Europe's tallest skyscraper for the middle of London. The 66 floor London Bridge Tower certainly looks impressive, and it's 'Extra White Glass' is expected to make the top of the tower "disappear into the sky" and change colour with the weather. But does London really need a 1000ft glass shard?
posted by twine42 (38 comments total)
 
i debated inserting this bit in the FPP, Southwark is pronounced something like Suth-uk. Just incase you cared... ;)
posted by twine42 at 4:32 AM on April 15, 2003


But does London really need a 1000ft glass shard?

I am quite sure that the aforementioned shard could be put to excellent use in one of the many pub brawls that occur with depressinging regularity post closing time.

Broken bottle? fuck you I'm gonna stick my 1000ft glass shard up your arse.
posted by johnnyboy at 4:39 AM on April 15, 2003


Southwark seem insanely keen on building a skyscraper somewhere. They had a plan for the redevelopment of Elephant and Castle (where I live, which is why I take such an interest) that bordered on the drug-induced and included two skyscrapers. They also wanted to rename the area "South Central", something that regularly has Los Angeles residents of my acquaintance laughing heartily. They asked the local population what they could do to improve the environment and the local population said "knock down the shopping centre". But it appears that they couldn't do that, so they wanted to build two skyscrapers on top of it to distract people's attention. There were also plans to build a supertall building slightly north of the Elephant, which also came to nought.

They're touting some new plan now. I think they're involved in public consultation, which is where they give us startlingly depressing answers to the question "Exactly how stupid do you think we are, anyway". They were shocked when the residents of the Aylesbury estate voted against the council knocking the estate down and moving most of the residents to a sink estate in Peckham, since they assumed that people would choose a crappy house close to the ground over a nice flat high in the air any day.

(The flats I've seen the inside of on the Aylesbury are nice - spacious and solidly built, with stunning views. All you have to get used to is the fact that someone in the building thinks it's a good idea to party all night on any given night. And the smell in the lifts.)

I don't know what exactly is up with Southwark council and these tall buildings, but I suspect that Freudian allusions aren't entirely inappropriate.
posted by Grangousier at 4:51 AM on April 15, 2003


Fur-sooth, as a shard, it does seem specifically taileored for Prince Charle's traditionalist arse.

The ending photo of the architect smoking his pipe is just, well, too delish for words, innit?
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:51 AM on April 15, 2003


I used to live around London Bridge/Southwark area and I can't say I like the idea of the skyscraper. But that's just me, I've always had a nostalgia for low-rise buildings which allow an unobstructed view of the sky.
posted by lunadust at 4:54 AM on April 15, 2003


I've seen something like that building somewhere.
posted by ?! at 4:58 AM on April 15, 2003


I was hoping that the 11/9 thing was going to put an end to sky scrapers, but apparently not.

Personally I'm not sure I'd fancy working at the top of something like that with floor to ceiling glass. But then I have problems with heights [Just saying that made muscles clench... *shudder*].

Can someone with a better knowledge of London that me tell me how near this is to the Eye? I'm guessing a 100ft viewing platform would be rather more impressive than the 443ft Eye. ;)

?!, can I just say that thing look horrendous? ;) At least this thing should look better than that...
posted by twine42 at 5:03 AM on April 15, 2003


What London needs is a time machine to take it back 150 years or so. It then needs to change it's attitude to new buildings which destroy the skyline and views of beautiful architecture (like Rome or Paris), then it needs to jump back to the present (so that I can visit).
The problem with new buildings in London is the they are all built to be a 'landmark'. No attempt at consistency, simpathy for location or setting should be allowed to interfere with the buildings unique status as another *pig ugly* London skyscraper.
I probably have plenty in common with Chuck on this subject.
The views over Rome from San Pietro's or over Paris from the Eifel Tower or Sacre Coer are breathtaking. The view from the London Eye is breathtakingly ugly.

The nod towards environmentally concious design makes this slightly less of a waste of time, money and energy. But I still have trouble with the idea that this building would be 'sensitive to it's...local environment'.

twine42 - it might obscure Greenwich from view for the eye, I am not sure.
posted by asok at 5:19 AM on April 15, 2003


Why does it remind me of minitruth? I half expect to see "Ignorance is strength" painted down the side. Go you nutty Airstrip Oners.
posted by Basalisk at 5:22 AM on April 15, 2003


it can't be any worse than the crappy stainless steel spike they've put up in the middle of dublin.
posted by kev23f at 5:25 AM on April 15, 2003


But I didnt think that they were supposed to build the giant pyramid in London till after Miracleman and Kid Miracleman destroy the city fighting?

Does this mean that the Miracleman Family have brought peace to earth and instituted a worldwide socialist utopia?
posted by couch at 5:38 AM on April 15, 2003


Doesn't look as nice as the erotic gherkin of the new Swiss Re building.
posted by imh at 5:45 AM on April 15, 2003


Does this mean that the Miracleman Family have brought peace to earth and instituted a worldwide socialist utopia?
No, that's Lambeth. Next door.

the erotic gherkin of the new Swiss Re building.
Oh, is that what it is. I was wondering.
posted by Grangousier at 5:47 AM on April 15, 2003


Twine42, isn't it "Sowf-uk" or "Suf-uk", not Suth-uk? I swear folks on that side of the river pronounce their "th" as an "f."
posted by shoepal at 5:55 AM on April 15, 2003


For centuries, Londoners have asked themselves one question: how can we prevent the sky from falling? The answer is obvious: scare it away with a bloody big spike. Early attempts using church-spires were defeated by the Great Fire of 1666, and Wren's replacements were entirely too round and smooth. The 19th century, however, gave us two important developments: buildings made entirely of glass; and the gothic revival that saw the new Houses of Parliament at Westminster graced with the tower of Big Ben, or 'Ol' Pointy'.

By the late 20th century, after the sky-wrought devastation of the Blitz underlined the need for more protective spiky buildings, Londoners redoubled their efforts. The multi-pronged Millennium Dome held out hope for a new golden age of sharpness, but the effect was undermined by a failure to use jagged glass shards in its construction, and by that crap exhibit about The Body.

But now, as London enters the 21st century, Southwark Council promises a new line of defence against rogue cumulonimbi. Taller than any European or even British landmark, pointier than the Post Office Tower run through a giant steam-powered pencil sharpener, and with room for 660 individual greenhouse allotments, the Shard of Glass will provide new inspiration to London-based Egyptophiles and dagger-wielding psychopaths alike. London Bridge Tower: The Sky's Delimit.
posted by rory at 5:56 AM on April 15, 2003


B-but it could attract giants looking for somewhere to play quoits. Southwark should think about these things and it's careless of them to ignore the danger.

The same thing goes for the Telecom tower and croquet. If traditional-games-playing giants find out about us, we're doomed.
posted by Grangousier at 6:04 AM on April 15, 2003


What a carbuncle.
posted by walrus at 6:08 AM on April 15, 2003


They also wanted to rename the area "South Central", something that regularly has Los Angeles residents of my acquaintance laughing heartily.

"South Central" is available since the original one is getting renamed as South Los Angeles. That'll fix those social problems!
posted by kirkaracha at 6:18 AM on April 15, 2003


rory, I thought the 'erotic gherkin' comment was going to take out first place in this thread - but you've left it in the dust.

To you sir, my hat is off.
posted by backOfYourMind at 6:25 AM on April 15, 2003


imh: thanks for the link to the Swiss Re building. I've seen pics of it here and there --and thought of it as butt-ugly, although I usually like Foster's buildings-- but I've never read the thinking behind it. Now that I have, I changed my mind completely; can't wait to go visit when it's done... Foster's Holborn Circus HQ of Sainsbury's is my favorite office building ever...
posted by costas at 6:38 AM on April 15, 2003


I have a lot of respect for Renzo Piano. Whatever the local political and social situation, the tower looks lovely in the latest renderings.
posted by mook at 6:40 AM on April 15, 2003


What London needs is a time machine to take it back 150 years or so. It then needs to change it's attitude to new buildings which destroy the skyline and views of beautiful architecture (like Rome or Paris), then it needs to jump back to the present (so that I can visit).

But the Eiffel Tower would have failed that, since it was more eyesore than landmark for years.

And I'm not sure on what planet the Grande Arche de La Defense is beautiful architecture.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:45 AM on April 15, 2003


*bows to backOfYourMind*

fwiw, it looks like a beautiful building, but I'm not sure this is the right place for it. One of those proposals it will take time to get used to, I suspect.

Does London actually need a 'skyline'? It's done pretty well stamping its presence in the minds of visitors with buildings no more than several storeys high.
posted by rory at 6:48 AM on April 15, 2003


Why not build it? The general impression London gives now us somewhere is ossified in the late nineteenth century.
posted by dydecker at 7:02 AM on April 15, 2003


The general impression London gives now us somewhere is ossified in the late nineteenth century.

Which is a problem how?
posted by walrus at 7:05 AM on April 15, 2003


Southwark Council certainly did a bang-up job on the waterfront -- the area around London Weekend Television, MOMI, and the Royal Festival Hall (I think it's collectively called South Bank Centre) is pure wasteland.

Plus the artist's renderings for this one make it look like the Ryugrong Hotel. (I know it's "Red Ken", but that's pushing it a bit too far.)
posted by Vidiot at 8:03 AM on April 15, 2003


66 stories is weak sauce.
posted by pjdoland at 8:12 AM on April 15, 2003


I used to work at Guys Hospital, which is the tower block on the left-hand side of the picture in twine42's second link. It's built on clay and rumour had it that they built the basement three times before it stopped filling with mud and sinking, which doesn't bode well for a taller building right next door. The view was fantastic from the top of Guys - they had a banqueting suite up there and I went to a retirement party there once - you could see over the hills and halfway to Brighton to the south.
posted by tabbycat at 8:58 AM on April 15, 2003


Which is a problem how?

Not a problem I suppose, though personally I find it depressing. London gives me the same feeling I get when I go round to my Gran's house (all furniture in statis since 1973).
posted by dydecker at 9:15 AM on April 15, 2003


personally I find [London] depressing.

I quite like it. Appeals to my more eldritch tastes, I suppose. There are other places I would live too, and prettier ones, but London has it's own dark charm for me. I suppose I want it all to be Battersea power station, but at the same time I've quite enjoyed the wheel thingy, so perhaps changes would grow on me. I still think this one is a wart.
posted by walrus at 9:44 AM on April 15, 2003


shoepal - I personally pronounce it "suv-uck". But then that's just me.
posted by ralawrence at 10:15 AM on April 15, 2003


Yes, by all means build it. Just think of the defenestration possibilities.
posted by ed at 12:54 PM on April 15, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe granted there are a few anomalies in the Parisian canon, but the overall view from a vantage point allows one to get a feel for the geography of the city, I wouldn't say the same for London (because there is always something obscuring your view of something else).

The Arc de la Defense would look more at home in London.
posted by asok at 2:06 PM on April 15, 2003


The general impression London gives now us somewhere is ossified in the late nineteenth century.

Out of curiosity, how did you get that impression? The thing about the city for me is that it is unfinished, in a constant state of reconstruction (except for brief haituses once a recession). Most of the recent development has taken place out towards the east: there's a whole other city growing over there - Canary Wharf has two equally huge companions. Admittedly the Isle of Dogs is a bit sterile and crap at the moment, but I expect it to be humanised eventually. Similarly, the City itself has been growing new buildings. And the opening up of the river (the latest stage of which was the opening of Tate Modern) is changing the way that people see the city - the embankment and the bridges are places that one can actually get some distance from the city and see what's there. Walking across Waterloo Bridge or the new Hungerford Bridge (or any of the others, but those are my favourites) is a constant joy. What is needed is to get rid of the bad buildings of whatever vintage (those awful concrete slabs opposite the Tate Modern for example).

Sorry. I really love London. It's a bit sad, really.
posted by Grangousier at 4:11 PM on April 15, 2003


I have to agree with asok in the general point of the landmarking of everything, but that being said I like this design.
posted by cell divide at 4:39 PM on April 15, 2003


I own a Swatch designed by Renzo Piano...
posted by Eekacat at 6:49 PM on April 15, 2003


I'd be surprised if this thing actually has the economic legs to be built. Rapidly diminishing floorplates handicap the economics of skyscrapers. Even then, most of the taller skyscraper projects of europe have not faired well of late. Looking at the size of the base of this tower, it promises to be an urban disaster, which even the most talented of architecture practices will have difficulty overcoming.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:00 PM on April 15, 2003


Oh, and that plan of the existing vaults is cool.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:02 PM on April 15, 2003


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