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Skyline campaign turns skyscraper debate on its head

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When the AJ and the Observer newspaper launched the Skyline campaign in spring, could anyone have guessed what an impact it would have?

The campaign sought to convince the Greater London Authority to introduce a more rigorous and intelligent planning system for tall buildings, following New London Architecture’s revelation that 236 buildings of more than 20 storeys were in the pipeline.

Launched in March, Skyline won backing from some of the biggest names in British architecture, and received widespread national media coverage, forcing a rapid PR response from mayor Boris Johnson.

Over several months, the AJ ran detailed features including examinations of skylines around the world and an analysis of how towers were failing the capital at ground level.

In July, the AJ presented five detailed Skyline demands to Johnson, and in October, AJ’s acting editor Rory Olcayto and acting deputy editor Will Hurst were nominated for Campaign of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors.

While Johnson has largely resisted Skyline, most of its key demands won unanimous backing from the London Assembly in November, placing renewed pressure on the mayor.

As Navin Shah, the architect assembly member who proposed the motion, said, ‘the flaws of ill-considered tall buildings have been well demonstrated by the Skyline campaign’.  The campaign may be over, but expect the ripples to continue well into 2015.

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