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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Friday, 11 April 2014

Nine Elms disease part XX: Skyline campaign brings good taste to the debate

At last, someone comes to the debate over London's resurgent skyscraper plague with matters other than money and politics in mind.

Writing in the Architect's Journal, former City of London planner  Peter Rees poured scorn on the quality of the new residential towers going up across London - but especially those in the Vauxhall/NineElms/Battersea developments.

He rather weakens his case by contrasting these "dumbed down" "investment towers" with some of the new buildings in the City that he was involved with - the Gherkin and the Cheesegrater, sure, but what about the repulsive "Walkie-Talkie"? Did the plans for that one not pass under his highly sensitive nose?

That apart, you just have to applaud the campaign's aims, but it looks like it's just too late. Certainly for those of us watching our lovely views across London being daily narrowed down by the shiny boxes of various shapes rising out of the old Battersea marshes.

In a separate article in the same magazine, Robert Bevan  singles out the hideous St George's Tower at Vauxhall, which is best known as the location of a helicopter crash last year. Great the way an architectural expert can really lay in to a nasty building - he attacks its joylessness, and the "cheap grey glass and steel" finish, at odds with the "cheap green glass" of the equally hideous winged towers next door/beneath.

Oddly, another recent and quite loud bit of architectural statement at Vauxhall is the subject of a preservation campaign. That's the shiny "ski jump" shelter at the massive bus station, all of which is now to be swept away under Lambeth's plans. Good luck, Kate Hoey MP et al!

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