Critics claimed it was “visually intrusive” and “inappropriate”, the developer actually believed the project was a “unique option to strengthen London’s reputation”: the UK government halted the construction of the Foster & Partners observation tower. What led to the decision?
Three years ago, the Foster & Partners office unveiled its plan to build the Tulip, a colorful observation tower in London’s financial district. The Foster & Co. office – owned by British architect Sir Norman Foster – designed, among other things, Hong Kong International Airport, the glass dome of the Reichstag building in Berlin, the Qatar International Stadium, and more.
The initiator of the project is the Safra Group, which also built the nearby tower, the Garkin (“the pickle”).
The tower was to rise to a height of 305.3 meters, and serve as an attraction for visitors: it was designed with a 12-story glass dome, which has about 2,600 square meters for observation areas over the city, a bar, two commercial floors with an area of 1,000 square meters on the lower floors, and open public space. It was also supposed to be the second tallest in the UK – after the Shard Tower.
In April last year, the London City Council approved the plan, but a researcher was then appointed to examine the objections to Tulip, and the researcher wrote a 200-page report.
What happened now
Construction Minister Christopher Fincher has announced that based on the investigator’s report, he does not approve the construction of the tower. Opposition to its construction had some interesting arguments. One claim was its expected negative impact on the “architectural heritage” around it – and especially that its appearance would detract from the view of the Tower of London.
A second argument referred to the “Tulip” carbon emissions: “Despite the strict measures taken to minimize carbon emissions during construction, they will not be able to reset the concept, which is not sustainable, of using large amounts of reinforced concrete to build foundations and raise visitors to high floors. As much as possible to enjoy the view, “the researcher’s report said.
The government researcher also objected to the fact that the tower had only one use, and therefore it is not clear whether it will be economically viable. The report further stated that with respect to the City of London, the economic benefit would be marginal, and it would not overcome the planning problems.
“The purpose, shape, materials and location – all came down to planning that would damage the importance of the Tower of London, and other sites,” the researcher’s report said. “The profit that the new attraction for visitors will give to the economy, tourism and education will be modest relative to the city and the other areas.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the tower would have “limited public benefit” and did not have “first-class architecture needed to justify its existence” and that the street floor was not well planned.
The developer said she was “disappointed with the UK Government’s decision not to allow the construction of the colorful tower. In our view, the project represented a unique opportunity to strengthen London’s reputation in architecture, culture, education and tourism”.