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Parry reveals proposals for tallest tower in City


Eric Parry has revealed proposals for a new 73-storey skyscraper which is set to become the tallest building in the City of London

Measured from the ground, the office tower at No1 Undershaft will be 294.6m tall – only a few metres shorter than Renzo Piano’s 306m-tall Shard across the river. Calculated from sea level the buildings are even closer, with the new tower standing at 309.6m and the Shard at 312.7m.

The scheme, next to Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ recently completed Cheesegrater building, would replace the so-called Aviva Tower – formerly the Commercial Union building – a 118m-tall block by GMW dating from 1969 with similarities to Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building in New York.

Eric Parry Architects’ 90,000m² proposal is similarly minimalist but features external cross-bracing, ‘special fins’ to reduce solar glare and an elevated reception lobby allowing ‘the public to walk freely beneath the skyscraper’.

It is understood Eric Parry Architects saw off PLP and David Walker Architects to land the tower project, which is backed by Singapore-based Aroland Holdings Limited.

The proposals, which are on public display at the Bishopsgate Institute until Wednesday (9 December), include a new public square, a free public viewing gallery ‘served by dedicated lifts’ and London’s highest public restaurant.

Parry said the tower represented the ‘very best of British architecture’ adding: ‘It will be a building where the public are put first with a new public square at its base and the capital’s tallest free public viewing gallery at its top. 

‘Most skyscrapers are used Monday to Friday but 1 Undershaft will be used seven days a week, with the public able to enjoy the new public square, viewing platform and restaurant every day. It will be the jewel in the crown of the City of London and something we hope Londoners will be very proud of.’

‘[The tower] will create more of the quality office space that is desperately needed in the capital and will reconnect the city’s tall building cluster with the public.

‘The City of London is proving it can yet again attract international investment in creating unique and important new buildings.’

The scheme is Eric Parry Architects’ first skyscraper project. The practice’s previous tallest scheme was the 19-storey 5 Aldermanbury Square scheme.

A planning application is expected to be submitted to the City of London in the New Year.

Eric Parry Architects' proposals for 1 Undershaft - public consultation December 2015

Eric Parry Architects’ proposals for 1 Undershaft - public consultation December 2015

Source: Anthony Coleman

Model shot


Peter Stewart, former director of  design review at CABE and founder of Peter Stewart Consultancy

Eric Parry’s design is a good and pleasingly modest proposal for the new peak of the City’s ‘Eastern cluster’ of towers. Recent skyscraper building in central London has seen a rather attention-seeking crowd of starchitect designs accumulating within the jumbled medieval street layout – curvy in the case of Foster and Viñoly, angular for Rogers and Piano. In its contingent messiness, it is a very London cluster, in spite of this international provenance, which contrasts with the calm, orthogonal approach to tall buildings raised on a north American-style masterplan grid at Canary Wharf.

Parry has matured into an acknowledged master of the high end, contextual city building. Here, this approach is taken to new heights, but in its response to its surroundings, it exhibits the same thoughtfulness at seventy storeys as seen at a tenth that height in other projects by this practice which are set within traditional city block contexts. There isn’t room for another trophy here, and the relative straightforwardness of what is proposed can be read as an implied rebuke to some of its predecessors.

’There isn’t room for another trophy here’

The limits of the Eastern cluster are largely determined by London’s protected heritage views, and new towers here need to be squeezed into an area of about one tenth of the Square Mile. The cluster is getting denser, not bigger, with several other very large towers in the same area planned but not yet built. It may soon begin to call to mind a crowd of lanky shipwreck survivors huddled together on an island not quite big enough for them - as the tide rises. Thank God for what we used to know as the CU Plaza that will, in an improved form, provide at least some sort of setting for these huge buildings.

Eric Parry Architects' proposals for 1 Undershaft - public consultation December 2015

Eric Parry Architects’ proposals for 1 Undershaft - public consultation December 2015

Source: Anthony Coleman

Model shot


Readers' comments (3)

  • Londoners have gone mad. It is stupid this race for the tallest. In particular this one is so vulgar... Stop! Let London be herself.

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  • Chris Roche

    Eric Parry is an outstanding British Architect and this project provides his practice with the opportunity to demonstrate on a world-stage that they are outstanding World Architects. I eagerly await it's successful outcome.

    Chris Roche / Founder 11.04

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  • far too close for comfort

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