From 3 April to 12 June: London’s Growing… Up! Free exhibition on show at NLA’s galleries London WC1E 7BT (London Festival of Architecture)
Gherkin tops the bill, good design is important but we don’t want to live in them – what Londoners really think of tall buildings
To coincide with the exhibition London’s Growing… Up! The rise and rise of London’s tall buildings, independent think tank, New London Architecture (NLA) have conducted an in-depth poll in conjunction with Ipsos MORI, to establish how Londoners really feel about the increasing number of tall buildings planned for their capital. (Copyright CPAT / Hayes Davidson / Jason Hawkes)
The Norman Foster-designed 30 St Mary Axe, better known as the Gherkin, was chosen as Londoners’ favourite building with 36 per cent from a selection of 13 tall towers. Western Europe’s tallest building, The Shard, ranked in second place and newcomer to the London skyline, The Leadenhall Building (nicknamed the Cheesegrater) ranked third. The historic Barbican was chosen as Londoners least favourite tall building.
When asked to consider the number of tall buildings in the capital relative to the 23 built in the past five years, 45% felt that tall buildings had improved the London skyline. 40 per cent disagreed that there are too many tall buildings in London.
Whether the design fits in with the London skyline topped the list of Londoners’ priorities when constructing new towers. 53 per cent chose this as their highest or second highest priority. Design and affordability were also priorities, 35% chose whether it has good design and 32 per cent felt affordable housing was a necessity in new towers. Young Londoners’ let design take a backseat than the older demographic with their priorities focused on whether the new towers could offer new job opportunities.
Most Londoners didn’t aspire to live in tall buildings. Young men proved the most likely to want to live in towers but were still heavily outnumbered by those not wanting to move upward. The figures also showed that seven out of ten over 34’s were unwilling to live in the high-rise towers.
When it came to work however – 61 per cent of Londoners were happy to work in tall buildings, rising to 72 per cent amongst the younger demographic.
26 per cent wanted to see more tall buildings being built than in the last five years although 37 per cent of Londoners wanted to see fewer.
Inner Londoners wanted the construction of fewer tall buildings than those that live in the outer suburbs and more men voted for an increase in tall buildings than women.
When asked if enough was being done to control the construction of tall buildings, the vote was pretty evenly split – 31 per cent yes and 26 per cent no, with the rest unsure.
The results of this poll follows fresh on the heels of an NLA and GL Hearn building survey, released at MIPIM, which found that there are at least 236 towers above 20 storeys currently planned for the London.
Ben Marshall, Research Director, Ipsos MORI, said: With London facing a ‘housing crisis’ and keen to grow economically, the onus tends to be on the quantity of new building. Tall towers offer promise, but our new poll for New London Architecture underlines the importance the London public place on quality and design. Opinion is mixed – Londoners might like looking at tall towers, but they are less sure about living in them.”
Peter Murray, Chairman of NLA and curator of London’s Growing… Up! Comments: „I am pleased to see that more people these days are in favour of tall buildings than against – well designed towers in the right place can enhance the skyline. Equally bad ones do the opposite. We must be vigilant. The quantity of buildings coming through the system is such that we need to make sure the right controls are in place, that is why we are calling for the Mayor to set up a London Skyline Commission to ensure that only best quality buildings get through the net.“
London Festival of Architecture
The London Festival of Architecture (LFA), now in its 10th year, celebrates London as a global hub of architectural experimentation, practice and debate. Taking place throughout June, the annual festival provokes questions about the contemporary and future life of the city, and promotes positive change to its public realm. The city-wide programme is delivered by leading cultural and academic institutions alongside associated projects by practices and individuals.
NLA — London’s Centre for the Built Environment
NLA was founded in 2005 to provide an independent information resource and a forum for discussion and debate about London’s built environment for professionals, public and politicians. Since that time it has successfully established itself as a major focus for discussion about architecture, planning, development and construction in the capital with a year-round programme of events, publications and exhibitions, and a core mission – bringing people and ideas together to shape a better city.
Selected Facts and Figures (Poll carried out by Ipsos Mori on behalf on NLA)
Technical note for Editors: Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 500 members of the public aged 16-64. Interviews were carried out online between 14-18 February 2014. Data are weighted to be representative of the population. Full question text, and detailed tables are available
Rank of buildings based on Londoners’ answer to- Which one of these buildings do you like best?: