The news that London is set to be hit with 230 new towers has been making the headlines recently, but tall buildings are nothing new to the capital. We’re taking a look at some of the city’s tallest towers from throughout the ages, comparing structures from 1100 all the way to the present day. You can check out some of the city’s most modern additions on our Modern Architecture walking tour.
[The news that London is set to be hit with 230 new towers has been making the headlines recently, but tall buildings are nothing new to the capital. We’re taking a look at some of the city’s tallest towers from throughout the ages, comparing structures from 1100 all the way to the present day. You can check out some of the city’s most modern additions on our Modern Architecture walking tour.
Image credit: Historic Royal Palaces
Name: White Tower (Tower of London)
Date: Est. 1100
Architect: Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester – under instruction from William the Conqueror
Fan: Military historian Allen Brown described the tower as “the donjon par excellence”, noting its “strength, majesty and lordly accommodation”.
Critic: We can safely assume that Ranulf Flambard and Charles, Duke of Orléans would be amongst the critics of the tower, having both been held prisoner there.
Bonus Fact: UNESCO added the Tower of London in its entirety to the World Heritage Sites list in 1988, with the White Tower certified as a Grade I listed building.
Image credit: Wikipedia
Name: St Paul’s Cathedral
Date: 26th October 1708
Architect: Sir Christopher Wren
Fan: Poet and antiquarian, James Wright praised the tower, saying “within, below, above, the eye is filled with unrestrained delight.”
Critic: Anthony Ashley Cooper famously condemned Wren’s design as “excessive” and “vulgar”
Bonus Fact: The cathedral survived two bomb strikes during the Blitz.
Image credit: Destination 360
Name: Victoria Tower
Date: May 1860
Architect: Charles Barry
Fan: In reward for his work on the Palace of Westminster – including the Victoria Tower – Barry was knighted by Queen Victoria
Critic: Despite being involved in the building of the Palace of Westminster, Augustus Pugin later criticised the design as: “all Grecian, sir; Tudor details on a classic body.”
Bonus Fact: The tower was named for Queen Victoria, who also laid the first stone on 22nd December 1843.
Image credit: Mark Gilbert
Name: One Canada Square
Date: 8th November 1990
Architect: César Pelli
Fan: Paul Reichmann praised the building design and the “spirit” of the architect whilst attending the topping out of the tower.
Critic: Prince Charles criticised the building on national television, stating that he would “go mad if I had to work in a place like that.”
Bonus Fact: One Canada Square has featured in many films, including the fifth Harry Potter and the second film in the Bourne trilogy.
Image credit: fsseinfo
Name: The Shard
Date: 30th March 2012
Architect: Renzo Piano
Fan: John Prescott showed his approval of the design when he approved planning permissions, deeming it a tower of the “highest architectural quality”.
Critic: Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones branded the building an “attack” on London, with its results “ugly” and its damage “permanent”.
Bonus Fact: The Shard most recently reached headlines when six Greenpeace activists scaled the building to hang a flag in protest of oil drilling in the Arctic.