The City of London’s tallest tower gets the go ahead

Posted by Derek Mason

4th February 2020

If you spend any time at all in central London, Canary Wharf or East London, you cannot fail to have noticed the changing skyline, as tall buildings stamp their presence on the landscape.

Late last year, another tall building finally got the official nod, with 1 Undershaft getting formal planning consent three years after members of the City of London’s planning and transportation committee voted to approve it.

Singaporean developers Aroland Holdings have now been granted permission to knock down the Aviva Tower and build the tower designed by Eric Parry Architects in its place.

The new building, informally referred to as ‘The Trellis’ due to its external cross bracing, is a 73-storey skyscraper, coming in at 289.9 m (951.2 ft). The planned height was reduced by 4.66 m (15 ft) due to the potential for interference with flight paths in and out of London City Airport.

Despite the reduction, The Trellis will still be the tallest building in the Square Mile, and the second tallest building in the UK. It will bump the not quite completed 22 Bishopsgate from its position as second tallest, with only The Shard being higher.

The stats will look like this:

  1. The Shard – 310 m (1016 ft)
  2. 1 Undershaft – 290 m (951 ft)
  3. 22 Bishopsgate – 278 m (912 ft)

The Shard doesn’t look likely to lose its top spot any time soon, although One Canada Square – built in 1991 – has lost its second place position at 236 m (774 ft) to 22 Bishopsgate. Right now, the Canary Wharf skyscraper will remain in third place, until 1 Undershaft is near completion – potentially in 2026.

There have been concerns raised about 1 Undershaft, with Historic Royal Palaces objecting that the Trellis will be “visually intrusive” and harm the setting of the Tower of London. But it appears the build will go ahead despite this objection.

Whatever you think of the current drive to fill London’s skyline, the Trellis is an ambitious project. Rectangular in shape, and tapering slightly towards the top, it was originally intended to resemble Cleopatra’s needle. But London’s planners didn’t want another overt shape, so the design has been modified.

The skyscraper will start 10.5 metres off the ground to allow for public space beneath the building. This means that the building’s core will be positioned to the side of the tower, which is why the bronze, diamond-shaped cross bracing is required.

A public square is part of the scheme, as well as 2,178 m2 (23,444 sq ft) of retail space below ground level. The top of the tower will house London’s highest viewing gallery, which will be free to the public and which will include a restaurant, plus potentially a museum run by the Museum of London and an education area for school parties.

The public viewing gallery is a key part of the development, alongside an emphasis on sustainable transport, with the provision of more than 1,800 cycle-parking spaces and 167 showers for the 12,000 people likely to be working in the new build.

Taking it’s place among a cluster of tall buildings in the City, including 122 Leadenhall Street – The Cheesegrater – and 22 Bishopsgate, a building described in the press as, “inescapable from every angle, an urban cliff-face that will change the capital’s profile forever”, 1 Undershaft will hopefully be a little more understated. Though still the City’s tallest tower.

Meanwhile, if you require assistance with the structural elements of a project, tall or short, please do get in touch.

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