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Capital reaches even higher with world's tallest tower. . .

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London practice M 3 Architects is the latest firm to join in the craze for building skyscrapers in the capital by unveiling a £450 million plan for a giant tower which would put even the world's current tallest building, Kuala Lumpur's 450m Petronas Towers, in the shade.

The five-year-old practice, headed by ex-Foster and Partners pair Ken Hutt and Nadi Jahangiri, is in talks with 'a US-based company with a big presence in the UK' about a proposed 460m, 108-storey curving 'Citygate Ecotower' it wants to build in the City of London. If it wins planning consent the scheme would dwarf Canary Wharf, Tower 42, the BT Tower and even Renzo Piano and Broadway Malyan's proposal for a 393m tower at London Bridge.

'The size and scale of it is pretty unique for London at the moment but we can see the climate changing, ' said Hutt. 'We're pretty optimistic - it will meet resistance but we expect the City planners to be supportive.'

Hutt expects to turn around a planning application for the site above Aldgate Tube station within the next six months. He aims to meet planners for talks in November to gain initial feedback. 'It's the right time and is the right kind of project with a lot of ingredients which make it interesting and unique, ' he said.

The 181,481m2 building features retail at its base, rising through offices with trading floors to an 'apart-hotel' and penthouses. It has been designed as an example of 'the future of high-rise, mixed-use towers' with solar-cell cladding, ventilated facades and wind turbines designed to reduce energy consumption by up to 60 per cent.

The Corporation of London said it would not rule out any planning application before it was submitted but added that the site chosen is in an area earmarked for tall buildings in the City's Unitary Development Plan, outside of any St Paul's strategic views restrictions. That same plan encourages the development of large floorplate buildings on 'suitable' sites in the City, although a building of quite this height is unprecedented in the UK.

Hutt previously worked on the unbuilt Foster and Partners-designed precursor to Swiss Re, the 385.5m London Millennium Tower. He also worked on Europe's current tallest building, the 300m tall Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

The Ecotower proposals will be featured alongside high-rise buildings by Richard Rogers Partnership and Foster and Partners in a new exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago from 19 August. The exhibition will move on to San Francisco before closing in Washington DC in 2002.

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