The City still prefers high-rise

PROPERTY developers and architects across the City yesterday refuted architect Ken Shuttleworth’s comments that the “age of bling” for skyscrapers is over.

Shuttleworth, who designed the Gherkin building in 2004, created a stir by saying the 40-story tower would never get off the ground today. “Money now drives everything, so if you can build something for half the price, you will,” he said.

But Baron Phillips, spokesman for the developer of the Shard, which will be London’s tallest building when it is completed in 2012, disagreed and said high-rises are a more logical use of land, regardless of price.

“London is unbelievably spread out and it’s because of the low-rise development in the city. It shows that the city isn’t using the land properly. Building more towers maximises the precious use of space in London.”

While five new skyscrapers will join the London skyline by 2014, Paul Katz, managing principal of KPF, the designer of the Heron Tower, said he was surprised about Shuttleworth’s comments.

“While the ‘age of bling’ might be over for skyscrapers and high-rises, we really need to evaluate whether skyscrapers should be bling in the first place.”

Chris Wilkinson, director of Wilkinson Eyre Architects, added: “It is nonsense to say that the age of the skyscraper is coming to an end when it has only just begun.

“Towers are inherently economical in terms of land use and can be designed as sustainable, low energy users, so their future is assured.”