Unveiled in November 2018, ‘The Tulip’ building was supposed to be London’s, quite literally, biggest new attraction. If built, the tower would have been the tallest in the City of London at 1,000ft, second only in Western Europe to The Shard.
Drafted by Norman Foster’s architectural practice, the same Foster who designed the iconic ‘Gherkin’, the skyscraper aspired to be a cultural apex and was estimated to attract 1.2 million visitors every year.
Artist’s impressions certainly raised eyebrows, with the building receiving some unsavoury nicknames. At such a height and at such an expense, it was vital that the tower benefited Londoners and that its creation did not come at the detriment of other London attractions, such as the Tower of London. Part of the outlandish design included gondola pods which would revolve slowly around the outside of the central ‘flower’. The panoramic views would certainly be incredible, aided by the fact that ‘The Tulip’ itself would be out of sight.
Sadiq Khan however has agreed with the protests and thrown out the plans. A spokesman for Khan explained “The mayor has a number of serious concerns with this application and having studied it in detail has refused permission for a scheme that he believes would result in very limited public benefit.”
City of London Corporation had approved the plans in April, and Khan’s response certainly comes as a surprise. The equally divisive ‘Glass Cube’, now being built in a conservation area next to Paddington station, faced no such opposition from the mayor.
Historic England expressed immediate concern as soon as the plans to build ‘The Tulip’ were revealed. The chief executive of the group, Duncan Wilson, was quoted as saying “This building, a lift shaft with a bulge on top, would damage the very thing its developers claim they will deliver – tourism and views of London’s extraordinary heritage”.
Although a failure, the financial cost does not come near to that of the reported £53m spent on Boris Johnson’s ‘Garden Bridge’. In this way the projects sudden death, without too great an expenditure, will come to the relief of many.
By Lewis Andrews