New High Rise Extravaganza Proposed for London’s Skyline


One of the most extraordinary planning applications London has ever seen has been submitted.

Lord Norman Foster, Architect of The Gherkin (London) wants to revamp the city. As his original build has become increasingly crowded by a dense thicket of towers and slabs, leading it to be overshadowed by newer projects.

Proposed to sit beside his beloved Gherkin, he has brought forth the notion of The Tulip. A high rise observation tower that will stand at 1000 ft tall (305.3m), the tallest structure and the second highest building in the city. It also reflects his original Gerkin design – remarkably closely. 

If plans go ahead The Tulip will be 5 meters shorter than the Shard, situated across the Thames river, and will illustrate a 12 storey glass bubble-like shape, erected on top of a long concrete stem.

The Tulip will consist of rides in transparent pods, bars, restaurants, a viewing area, a miniature park, and an educational zone.

Such an architectural extravaganza is borderline unheard of in the United Kingdom, and now the City of London’s planning department will look at Foster and Partner’s application to see if it can go ahead in the future of the city. If successful, the building is thought to be completed by 2025.

The Tulip is a parody of architectural hubris. As the pod at the top of The Tulip stands as a miniature Gherkin pushed to the very heights of the sky, meaning  Foster does not want to see his building being overshadowed, and will literally reach to the skies to ensure that doesn’t happen.

His original icon is now starved of natural light and tourist attention. So his new proposal takes the same concept and pushes it to the very limit of high rise application. The great glass head of The Tulip will be encased by three protruding vertical spoon-like designs that will skim the walls of the lunging atriums – similar to the form of Astana’s Death Star expo pavilion.

A transparent slide will allow visitors to `whoosh` between the floors of the egg-like capsule and users can take advantage of the glass spheres, that will take them on an 8-minute long journey in an elliptical loop across the seven storey’s of The Tulip’s flower.

A new high rise building is unusual for London – and it is especially unusual for it to be so fanciful.

That being said, big changes to the City’s skyline could soon be implemented. With a 2017 survey discussing new London Architecture demonstrating 510 buildings of 20 or more storey’s to be in the pipeline.

High rise builds have also been proposed in cities further scattered around the United Kingdom, inclusive of Bristol, Manchester and Norwich.

Standing at over 300 meters, The Tulip would be in guidelines to gain classification as Supertall. London currently remains joint 56th in the Global list of cities with completed buildings of more than 150 meters. With 18 in place – London is tied with Seattle, US.

Hong Kong showcases 353 Supertall buildings, followed by New York with 269. No other city in the UK scores higher than 180th, and in the entirety of the world there are only three builds that reach the Urban Habitat’s 600-meter Megatall category: Burj Khalifa (Dubai), Shanghai Tower (China), & Makkah Royal Clock Tower (Saudi Arabia)

The City of London Corporation will deliver its verdict on the fate of The Tulip, quite fittingly, in Spring 2019.

If plans are able to go ahead it could be the very first step in developing a new, unique, skyline for London, as the City decides whether to take to new heights or remain grounded. 


Latest Issue

BDC 299 December 2022