Image courtesy of DBOX for Foster + Partners

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City of London approves Foster’s “Tulip” amid objections it is too “eye-catching”

3 April 2019 | By GCR Staff | 2 Comments

The City of London Corporation yesterday approved an application for “The Tulip”, a striking, Foster + Partners-designed leisure and education tower that would have a major impact on London’s skyline.

With its bulbous tip and rotating viewing pods, the building would be 1,000 feet (305.3m) high, making it the second tallest building in Western Europe after London’s Shard.

Proposed by banking company the J. Safra Group, owner of the neighbouring Gherkin, the project must now receive approval from mayor Sadiq Khan’s Greater London Authority (GLA), which has objected to the scheme.

Also objecting is the heritage body Historic England, which says it is too eye-catching and would diminish the “sense of dominance” of the nearby Tower of London.

But the City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee yesterday voted 18-7 in favour of the project at 20 Bury Street, saying it could attract 1.2 million visitors a year. 

Dubbed a “classroom in the sky”, the bulb would offer 20,000 free places a year to teach London school children “the city’s history and dynamism”.

There would also be a sky bar at the top and retail space at the ground level.

Analysis commissioned by project proponents from Deloitte said the Tulip would boost London’s economy by an extra £970m and would add 600 permanent full-time jobs during 20 years of operation.

Dubbed a “classroom in the sky”, the bulb would offer 20,000 free places a year (DBOX for Foster + Partners)

A poll commissioned from ComRes found that 65% of surveyed London adults thought it would be an attractive addition to the skyline.

The Corporation’s planning committee chairman, Chris Hayward, said: “After a lengthy and robust debate, the committee agreed to approve this truly unique visitor attraction.

“One of my key objectives … has been to enable the continued transformation of the City of London into a place which welcomes members of the public on weekends as during the week. This building has the potential to play an important role in realising our vision of the Square Mile as a vibrant 24/7 city.”

In consultations the GLA said the proposal did not comply with the London Plan and draft London Plan. (Its comments are recorded in the Corporation’s report, available here.)

Agreeing with Historic England on the heritage impact, the GLA called the height of the building “unjustified” and objected to the “solid and inactive building frontage”, which it said was incongruous in the area.

It also said the development “fails to provide free to enter publicly accessible viewing areas”, and would result in “a poor quality, unwelcoming, unnecessarily confined pedestrian environment”.

GLA planners have 14 days to respond, reported the BBC.

Top image courtesy of DBOX for Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners designs 305m-tall “Tulip” for London skyline