|St George Wharf Tower at Vauxhall - is this the nastiest of all the new-ish, tall-ish buildings in London?|
For sheer "wtf?" factor, this new building, One Blackfriars, is not as offensive as the lumbering goon of the Walkie Talkie as it gobbles up air and light over the City of London.
As hideous as these two recent arrivals to London's new skyline may be, there's a third contender for the crown - surely, the most dismal of all the ugly high-rise London brothers.
This third structure is only too well known in the SW postcodes.
Mention a downed helicopter, a rude finger pointing up to the sky, and you all know it - St George Wharf Tower at Vauxhall.
Look at each tower in a bit more detail.
1. The Walkie Talkie
|The Walkie-Talkie - a "lumbering goon" of a building|
which blocks light and ruins views in the City of
London – looks just as bad a mile south in Bermondsey.
Does anyone love this tower? Well, possibly those making a fortune out of letting it. It still dominates views of the City from the south bank of the river, despite much taller new buildings shooting up behind it. Wide-shouldering its way into a billion tourist photos, this is a true monument to City greed.
2. St George Wharf Tower, Vauxhall (pictured above) is a 180 metres, 52 storey cylindrical tower poking out from a sharp bend of the River Thames. It is one of Europe’s tallest wholly residential buildings and the tallest residential tower in London.
The tower's "green" credentials, with a wind turbine at the top supposedly generating 27,000 kWh of energy per year, are fine, but hardly make up for the disastrous impact this structure has on views from all over London, and especially from Whitehall, Pimlico and my back yard.
|St George Wharf Tower - one of very few |
skyscrapers that looks even worse at night.
Even if it hadn't been the scene of a tragic helicopter crash in 2013, people would still have hated this building.
You know how bad it is because no-one has been able to find a decent nickname for it - one that sticks. I've heard "The Battery" - but the Duracell AA batteries it resembles are much more elegantly styled. Someone else called it "The Plunger" which is nearer the mark.
It's one of very few skyscrapers that actually look worse at night when the lights come on. There are vertical stripes of light going the full height of the tower, then shorter bars of light surrounding the corona-style penthouse at its peak.
The lights have that harsh brightness, reminiscent of DHSS office striplights back in the early 1970s. Maybe the builders got a job of old neon tubes and slapped them on. That's what it looks like: cheap, cold, nasty.
3. One Blackfriars, aka The Vase and The boomerang. Designed by architects SimpsonHaugh and Partners, this 49-storey, 535ft tower at the south-west end of Blackfriars Bridge is a worrying sight. What was supposed to be an elegant tribute to an iconic Scandinavian glass vase now looks like a pot-bellied man (or, according to other observers, a pregnant woman, or a flasher concealing a large erection beneath his raincoat).
From some angles it looks like a the companion of the Walkie Talkie, as they could both be large drunken men bending over in the street to vomit on the pavement.
|One Blackfriars is almost 100ft shorter than originally|
planned, which might account for its almost comic
and definitely ungainly fat-bloke silhouette.
Ah, but I hear you shout, there's a fourth and fifth and a sixth contender for this sorry crown. And of course there are lots of other monsters out there. Just look. For many, the most ridiculous new tower in London is the thing that pokes its Batmobile ears and turbines into the sky above Elephant & Castle, name of "Strata SE1".
The building was famous for the three highly-visible turbines at the summit of the tower which were supposed to supply about eight per cent of all the 400 flats' electricity. Apparently as soon they were switched on the owners of the pricey flats on the upper floors complained of noise, vibrations, heat etc - so they were switched off most of the time.
The pricey blades were soon being mocked as a prime example of developers' favourite past-time, "greenwashing".
This joke of a tower block has since been crowded out by a load of bland high-rise residential towers, so now the silly old Strata - already nearly 10 years old - looks like the one guest at a party who actually bothered to wear fancy dress.
Other people will cite the Cheesegrater at Leadenhall, the Shard, and some of the clumsy towers of Canary Wharf. Personally I think the Shard is beautiful, elegant design; such a shame that it should be the preserve of the rich and the super-rich. What happened to all those democratic ideals that the young architects of the 60s, like Renzo Piano, must have been imbibing at their radical architecture schools?