Sunday, 21 April 2013
The Walkie-Talkie: new on London's skyline
London's drive for a distinctive skyline continues unabated. Following on from the Shard and the Gherkin, taking shape now are the Walkie-Talkie and the Cheesegrater. (The half-finished Helter Skelter is currently on hold, and the Scalpel is in the pipeline, as it were.)
The eyecatching feature of the Walkie-Talkie, at 20 Fenchurch Street, is that it curves outwards towards its top, so the highest floors are larger than those lower down, giving it the appearance of a giant telephone receiver popping up through the city's buildings. Designed by Rafael Viñoly, it is due to open in April 2014, and while most of us usually have to make do with the external appearances of towers in the financial district, this time there will be a "skygarden" open to the public. The plan is that it will be free, but require advanced booking. We'll see how that goes. Would it have received approval without the garden?
Finding it to draw presented the usual problem with tall buildings in a city: the closer you get, the harder it is to see. At Leadenhall Market, from where I drew this, the view opens up and the curve of the building's sides becomes apparent, as if any interest in accurate perspective has gone out of the window. Turning around, and the rising Cheesegrater was visible, looming over Leadenhall Market. (More here on this one soon.)
At 38 floors, the Walkie-Talkie is hardly the world's tallest (the Burj Khalifa has 164), or even London's (it barely makes it into its top 10), but it looks as if it will have an overpowering presence on the scrum of tall buildings north of London Bridge. The crowd is getting thicker. Old friends—and enemies—are getting lost in the midst of it.