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Mayor rejects ‘unwelcoming, poorly designed’ Tulip


London mayor Sadiq Khan has refused Foster + Partners’ Tulip tower saying the 304m-tall tourist attraction is ‘of insufficient quality’ and would harm the city’s skyline

Overturning the City of London’s recent approval for the proposed skyscraper next to The Gherkin, Khan said he had a number of major worries about the project including about its design (see report attached).

The report criticised the structure for being ’a vertical solid shaft’ that ended abruptly and that did not ’represent world class architecture’. The mayor was particularly dismissive of the spaces around its base

A spokesperson said: ‘The mayor has a number of serious concerns with this application and, having studied it in detail, has refused permission for a scheme that he believes would result in very limited public benefit.

‘In particular, he believes that the design is of insufficient quality for such a prominent location, and that the tower would result in harm to London’s skyline and impact views of the nearby Tower of London World Heritage Site.

‘The proposals would also result in an unwelcoming, poorly designed public space at street level.’

His comments about the scheme at 20 Bury Street in London’s Square Mile, echo those from Historic England and Historic Royal Palaces which had heavily opposed the proposal.

Both had objected to its impact on the views of the Tower of London, as did the Greater London Authority which said it had ‘significant concerns’ about its design.

Despite significant opposition, in April the City of London’s planning and transportation committee voted 18 votes to seven in favour of the project.

In addition to its report on the Tulip, the GLA has also published a critical report from its own London Review Panel, drawn from the Mayor’s Design Advocates.

The report, dated 16 April 2019, argues that the scheme did not represent ’world-class architecture’ describing the tower shaft as a ‘mute’ architectural element with viewing platforms designed to maximise views out.

The panel, which included architect Adam Khan and housing expert Claire Bennie, said a ’potentially unintended consequence’ of the Tulip’s design is that it created ’the appearance of a surveillance tower’.

The reviewers also said that a building of this size and impact should be ‘carbon neutral’, and that the education strategy should be more ambitious.

It concluded: ’The panel is unable to support The Tulip because it does not think it represents world-class architecture, it lacks sufficient quality and quantity of public open space, and its social and environmental sustainability do not match the ambition of its height and impact on London’s skyline.’

It is unknown whether the scheme’s developer, banking giant the J Safra Group which owns the neighbouring Gherkin, will appeal against the mayor’s decision.

However a spokesperson for the Tulip Project team said: ’[We] are disappointed by The Mayor of London’s decision to direct refusal of planning permission, particularly as The Tulip will generate immediate and longer-term socio-economic benefits to London and the UK as a whole.

’We will now take time to consider potential next steps for The Tulip Project.’


Readers' comments (22)

  • This was nothing but a vanity project for Foster + Partners to ensure that his iconic Gherkin would not be lost and forgotten amongst the emerging City skyline - disappointing in a way as the Gherkin will remain one of the best examples of British architecture in London for centuries. The Tulip proposal looked nothing more than an awkward sex toy or ear bud cleaner. Not even the use of the building particularly benefited Londoners. Strange place to send your children to school... Thank you Sadiq for standing up for the views of many respectable architects and designers whom oppose this project.

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  • Sadiq who?

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