Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) has joined Historic England in objecting to Foster + Partners’ proposed 305m-tall Tulip tower, saying it would be ’extremely damaging’ to the setting of the Tower of London
Earlier this month, Historic England claimed the tourist attraction close to the Gherkin would create an unwanted ‘vertical cliff edge’ to the so-called Eastern Cluster of skyscrapers.
Now the charity that manages the Tower of London, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has waded in, warning of the impact on the ‘eminence as an iconic, internationally famous monument’ by the arrival of the ‘exotic and consciously eye-catching’ tower behind it.
The letter (see attached) from Deborah Bird and Adrian Phillips at HRP also urged the City of London to ask UNESCO for its views before deciding on whether to approve the scheme, which is backed by billionaire banker Joseph Safra, owner of the neighbouring 30 St Mary Axe tower.
The charity, which looks after sites such as Hampton Court Palace, said it had ‘considerable concern[s]’ about the plans saying they would ‘significantly increase [the] existing visual damage to the western setting of the World Heritage Site’.
The document reads: ‘The height, proximity and self-consciously dramatic design of the proposed development would diminish the Tower World Heritage Site, reducing it to the appearance of a toy castle, set down between the ever-growing Eastern Cluster and Tower Bridge.
It goes on: ‘The height and attention-seeking nature of the Tulip’s design would make it the most visually intrusive element of the cluster in these views.
‘Its effect would be both major and adverse.”
HRP described the super-tall Foster proposal with its ‘curved concrete stem’, as an ‘alien and distracting object’, especially when seen in winter.
The organisation added it was unhappy too with how it had been told about Foster + Partners’ designs, saying the stakeholder consultation had not included them and that HRP was only shown ‘the proposal in its final form just two weeks before the formal planning application was submitted’.
Earlier this month Historic England wrote to the City of London saying it was concerned about how the tourist tower would dominate the backdrop behind the Tower of London when viewed from Tower Bridge.
‘The visual contrast between the modern City of London and the historic Tower of London has been established for decades, but has intensified in recent years as the Eastern Cluster of buildings becomes taller and denser,’ it wrote.
‘This new building is located towards the edge of the Eastern Cluster and would create a vertical “cliff edge” to it when viewed alongside the Tower of London from the east. This, coupled with the unusual eye-catching form of the Tulip, would reduce the visual dominance of the Tower of London.’
The project could begin on site as early as 2020 and if approved is scheduled for completion in 2025.
If built, the tower would become the tallest building in the City, edging above Eric Parry’s proposed 1 Undershaft, which has an estimated completed height of 304m. It would, though, still be slightly shorter than Renzo Piano’s Shard skyscraper (306m) across the river.
According to the practice, the scheme will feature glazed observation levels supported by a huge concrete shaft to create ‘a new state-of-the-art cultural and educational resource for Londoners and tourists’.
There are also plans internally for glass slides and gondola pod rides.
Responding to HRP’s criticism, a spokesperson for Foster + Partners said: ‘Comments from relevant organisations are welcome as part of the normal consultation process and we recognise the position of Historic Royal Palaces as an important local stakeholder with whom we engaged with prior to the submission of this planning application.
‘We will continue to work with the City of London Corporation and stakeholders to address these comments as part of the planning process.’
Dbox foster + partners the tulip skyline
Name The Tulip, London, United Kingdom
Client Bury Street Properties (Luxembourg) SARL
Architect Foster + Partners
Location Land next to 20 Bury Street, City of London
Planning Application 13 November 2018
Site Area 2,889m² (31,100sq ft)
Number of buildings two – entrance pavilion and visitor attraction
Building dimensions Height: 305.3m (1,000ft)
Diameter of concrete shaft 14.3m (47ft)
Diameter of widest floor 34.5m (113ft)
Structure High-strength concrete shaft with steel framed observation deck levels.
Parking facilities 284 bicycles, 2 disabled car spaces
Materials Concrete shaft for strength, maintenance and durability; high-performance glass: unitised and glazed; steel and aluminium framing; composite floor slabs
Sustainability Targeting BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.
Estimated construction 2020 till 2025
Model foster tulip