A dedicated viewing tower that looks like something out of a science-fiction movie could be coming to the City of London.

Designed by Foster+Partners, it’s a response to the difficulty that the current owners of “The Gherkin” found in opening up their top floor to the public as a viewing platform.

The top floor of the Gherkin (officially 30 St Mary Axe) is stunning, but designed for events rather than tourists. With more people wanting to stand on the top of skyscrapers, an alternative was proposed… the Tulip.

Planning permission is due to be filed today for the striking building, which if built would be the tallest structure in the City of London, and at 305 metres high, will be just one metre shorter than The Shard.

From the design renders though, it looks likely that the viewing floors would be higher than The Shard can offer, which would be a necessity as it would still have some views blocked by the City’s other skyscrapers.

While it would be a dramatic addition to the skyline, it’s difficult to see how such an expensive tower could be commercially viable. Planning policy requires new tall buildings to offer public viewing spaces, and they also have the income from the rental of office space to cover their costs.

A dedicated viewing tower would have to rely entirely on tourist income, and with slightly restricted views in the City, could struggle against The Shard and London Eye as a paying attraction.

That there is a free viewing platform at the “Walkie Talkie” and will be another viewing floor next door at the top of the Undershaft tower adds to the commercial pressure on a dedicated viewing tower.

It’ll look stunning though.

If the tower is given planning permission, construction could start in 2020, with completion due in 2025.


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  1. Sykobee says:

    That is not going to be called ‘the tulip’ by Londoners.

    That FAA building height restriction is really holding London back.

    • Melvyn says:

      Perhaps it will look taller when fully erect ….. A Wonka chocolate attraction could be perfect attraction!

    • Heidi Barnes says:

      Actually it looks more like a crocus ,but the Londoner sense of humour is going to be working overtime on this one . Maybe we could call it The Orgasmotron ,after the Jane Fonda classic film Barbarella !

    • K Sherwood says:

      Looks like the Lotus flower tower in Colombo Sri Lanka

  2. Majera Faruku says:

    #Cool #Bless

  3. JP says:

    According to the report on tonight’s BBC London news there will also be gondala rides on a track up and down and around and around the tumescent head. Another Foster phallic folly perhaps, except lots of them do get erected.
    Whilst I am not a fan of wonky skyscrapers, I admit that they’re more exciting than your traditional concrete and glass, but they’re all a bit shouty. Also there’s over two-hundred been given permish or in the final stages thereof, so I’ll just have to last another few decades until they start being pulled down like their sixties forebears are now.

  4. TM says:

    Why this?
    How can this be an economic build – it doesn’t appear to offer much floor area.
    Some of London’s tall buildings are stunning – the Gherkin, the Shard but others are not -the Walkie Talkie is overbearing and ugly and this one the Tulip(?)is just peculiar.

  5. Andrew Gwilt says:

    How can you build more new tall buildings in such a small confined space where there is no room for any more buildings to be built as London is still ever more growing in population. Incredible.

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