A solitary tower on the Southbank could be replaced by a cluster of wide office blocks if plans by Make Architects are approved.
Towering over the brutalist IBM building and itself an isolated cluster from the rest of the taller buildings, the new complex of offices as proposed would being an out-of-scale bubble of glass and steel sitting between concrete on one side and parkland on the other.
Normally, when a cluster of large buildings are proposed, they’re expected to sit next to and scale down from an existing cluster of buildings — such as the City of London’s plan or on the Southbank, next to Waterloo or Blackfriars.
The proposals centre around a 26-storey office building that is connected to two buildings of 13 and 6 storeys. Alongside office space and workspaces, the scheme will create new cafes and restaurants, cultural venues and green spaces. Although the proposals will open up more of the riverfront to pedestrians, it also dominates the river frontage and only reduces down to smaller buildings as it moves back from the riverfront — backwards to most thinking for such locations.
In a cluster of existing towers, the new plans might stand out in a positive manner, appearing more like a stack of sideways buildings, but in the isolated site on the Southbank, the design stands out like a proverbial sore thumb.
ITV sold 72 Upper Ground to Mitsubishi Estate in November 2019 with an existing planning permission to redevelop the site. There was a previously approved scheme to demolish the 1974 tower and replace it will two more conventional towers.
There is a public consultation on the new plans here.