The Eight Controversial Buildings Ready To Ruin London

By Spencer Hart on at

Boris Johnson has long maintained that he doesn't want the English capital to become Dubai-on-Thames, but with ever-more-outlandish architecture planned to climb into the sky, across the city's water front, and through many a historic building in the name of progress, you'd be forgiven for wondering.

Is this really what people want? Is this symptomatic of architecture today? Let's take a look at some of the projects that are aiming to change the English capital's skyline under Boris's watch – and then have a nice little debate about whether they're all necessary...

1.) London Garden Bridge

To the question: "does anyone actually want this thing?", you said no in droves. The controversial bridge is a vanity project seemingly built on lies: it was only going to cost £60 million originally, although this figure rose to £175 million; the money was then going to be raised privately, but now, of course, £60 million of it will come from public funds.

To top it off Joanna Lumley, a campaigner for the bridge since 1998, describes it as a "vital link" and a "walk through woodland" -- neither of which is actually true. However, it does look nice in their little computer renderings, so swings and roundabouts.

Status: Approved, ETA 2018

[Image Credit: Heatherwick Studio]

2.) 60-70 St Mary Axe

Otherwise known as the Can of Ham – for obvious reasons – this over-designed modern office block will sit, rather unfortunately, next to Britain's oldest synagogue.

Original plans were drawn up in 2008, but after years of setbacks the project has at last sprung into action again, when it was assigned a construction company last week.

Ham, Gherkin, all we need now is Jar of Mustard and Loaf of Bread.

Status: Approved, No ETA

[Image Credit: Daily Mail & Zombie Hunters]

3.) 1 Merchant Square

Westminster's first skyscraper will be this rather obese-looking '1 Merchant Square', bringing a boutique hotel, 222 residential units and a sky bar to Paddington Basin, just a lunchtime stroll from Giz Towers.

There's also an opportunity here in that this project doesn't have an official nickname yet, so does anyone have a suggestion? If we start using it all the time, it will just become A Thing, trust us. The Bulging Baguette, anyone?

Status: Approved, ETA 2018

[Image Credit: New London Development]

4.) One Black Friars

Have you ever wondered why so many of London's skyscrapers are fatter in the middle? It's not because it looks good -- because, clearly, it doesn't -- it's because developers can charge more for the higher levels.

One such building that follows this design is One Black Friars. The building resembles a coffin from certain angles and was opposed by English Heritage, Royal Parks, Lambeth Council, Westminster City Council and local residences. Despite this, it was somehow given planning permission by Southwark Council in 2007.

Status: Under Construction, ETA 2018

[Image Credit: Knight Frank]

5.) The Helix

The Helix, which resembles two large chimney stacks joined on certain levels by sinuous mental bands, will stand above a 'drive-thru' McDonald's in Canary Wharf.

This is no doubt because it's being developed by the real-estate arm of the fast-food chain, but surely they missed a trick – considering the capital's food-building trend – by not shaping it like a giant Big Mac and large fries?

Status: Proposed, ETA 2017

[Image Credit: Design Hive]

6.) Imperial West

The "Terracotta Dalek" (as The Guardian calls it) is the beefier cousin to Richard Rodgers' much more elegant Cheese Grater and it's yet another block of luxury flats situated in west London. Said flats will be sold to fund further development of Imperial College's White City campus. Which is nice.

Status: Approved, No ETA

[Image Credit: Skyscraper News]

Of course, it's not just massive buildings that are changing the city, either – a number of landscape-ruining rail engineering projects have been approved as well…

7.) HS2

HS2, or 'High Speed 2', is definitely controversial enough to earn a position on this list. The £80 billion rail link from Birmingham to London will cut an insignificant 30 minutes from people's journeys.

It's not just that the project has gone massively over-budget, with very little benefits to completing the line, it also runs through an area of natural beauty, the Chilterns, and that's a shame.

Status: Approved, ETA 2032

[Image Credit: BBC]

8.) London Crossrail

Crossrail is a 73-mile railway line that will eventually provide a quick east-to-west route across Greater London, convincing people who don't live in the capital that they do and rising everyone's house prices. Sounds great, right? The only problem is, in order to build this line they have to tunnel through central London -- which is no mean feat.

The entire project has caused a number of controversies, too, from freight-train operators claiming the plan will increase freight transit times to the capital's best venue, such as the London Astoria and Curzon Soho, being forced to close. You can still try and save the latter here.

Status: Under Construction, ETA 2018

[Image Credit: Financial Times]

Featured Image Credit: Dezeen