The AJ this week submitted five detailed recommendations to London mayor Boris Johnson as the Skyline campaign moved into a new phase
The campaign has sparked an impassioned debate in the national media since being launched by the AJ and the Observer newspaper in March.
The AJ has published a series of features by tall building experts discussing how London’s planning system could be reformed to ensure the hundreds of proposed buildings over 20 storeys tall in the capital are built to the highest standards and in appropriate locations.
Out of this have come five recommendations, which on Tuesday were submitted to the mayor and the inquiry into ‘Tall buildings and London’s skyline’ being held by the London Assembly’s planning committee.
- Introduce a presumption against tall buildings
- Order a review of all tall building policies
- Produce more detailed masterplanning for opportunity areas
- Fund a 3D computer model of London’s emerging skyline
- Establish a skyline commission
But the mayor has suggested that architects’ criticism of London’s emerging skyline is motivated by their ‘embarrassment’ over their own tall buildings.
Questioned by Labour member and chair of the planning committee Nicky Gavron last month, he told the London Assembly: ‘I notice there is a group of people in the newspapers who write these portentous articles and they always have some architect who joins in the criticism
‘That architect will always be someone who is the father or mother, normally the father, of some prodigiously enormous building that they themselves are personally a little bit embarrassed by. What they do is divert attention and criticism from that building by attacking all the other ones.’
However, the thrust of the campaign was backed this week by expert international group the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
A council spokesman told the AJ: ‘In general, the goals of the Skyline campaign and those of the council are aligned. We support a rational approach to designing tall buildings that are close to public transport, harmonious with their surroundings and yet distinctive.’
Referring to the situation in London, he added: ‘There seems to be a lack of metro-wide guideline consistency, such that some districts have very good tall buildings and some do not.’