The landscape architecture of tall buildings in London

When the Walkie Talkie (20 Fenchurch Street) was nearing completion it attracted publicity for its capacity to fry eggs on the pavement. Rafael Viñoly’s great facade behaved like a solar mirror, as shown in the below video. The sun shade added £10m to the £200m cost of the Walkie Talkie Scorchie

Now that the building is complete, attention is focussing on how the building impacts the wind environment. The environmental impact on trees, pedestrians, hair and skirts is shown on the below video.

Any sensible architect, after looking at these video clips would conclude ‘next time we do a tall building we’ll pay great attention to landscape impacts on skylines, microclimate and the street environment’. And next time a planning department gets an application for a skyscraper the staff should say ‘if we must give permission for this building, because our bosses want the business rates, at least we can get the developers to commission a good firm of landscape architects for the initial planning and for the detail design’. A good firm of landscape architects (Gillespies) was commissioned for the Walkie Talkie but, it seems to me, they did not have a significant involvement in the initial site planning of the Walkie Talkie.
Landscape architecture should never be commissioned as ‘urban cosmetics’ = ‘green lipstick’.

Tom Turner

Posted in skyline policy

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