Eric Parry Architects unveils tallest tower in City of London

| 46 comments

Eric Parry Architects has unveiled designs for 1 Undershaft, a 73-storey tower that will be the tallest building in London's financial district.

The rectangular tower, which will be the second tallest in London after The Shard, has been commissioned by Singapore property developers Aroland Holdings.

Containing 90,000 square metres of internal space, it will sit amongst a cluster of skyscrapers including the Cheesegrater and the forthcoming 22 Bishopsgate tower in the City of London, the city's financial district.

1 Undershaft skyscraper by Eric Parry Architects

The building will be capped by what the developers claim will be the highest free public viewing gallery in London, while the ground level will feature a public square. The lobby will be elevated to allow the public to walk through the building at street level while the basement will contain 1,800 square metres of shops and restaurants.

"It will be a building where the public are put first with a new public square at its base and the capital’s tallest free public viewing gallery at its top," said Eric Parry.

“Most skyscrapers are used Monday to Friday but 1 Undershaft will be used seven days a week, with the public able to enjoy the new public square, viewing platform and restaurant every day."



Externally, the gently tapering building features a diamond pattern of bronze struts. This is echoed in the raised entrance lobby, which is reached by a pair of crisscrossing escalators.

When complete, the building will accommodate 10,000 workers and will feature 1,500 bicycle parking spaces.

1 Undershaft skyscraper by Eric Parry Architects

At 294.6 metres tall, the skyscraper will be 114.6 metres higher than the nearby 30 St Mary Axe building – otherwise known as The Gherkin – by Foster + Partners.

It will 64.6 metres taller than Heron Tower, which is currently the tallest in the City, and is 13 stories higher than PLP Architecture's proposed 22 Bishopsgate building, which won planning permission last month.

1 Undershaft skyscraper by Eric Parry Architects

The architects intend to submit a planning application to the City of London in 2016.

Other recently unveiled skyscraper plans for London include Will Alsop's south London tower with a "highly unusual silhouette", and Renzo Piano's designs for a 224-metre cylindrical building at Paddington Station.

Eric Parry, 63 is based in London and has worked on a wide range of modest-sized projects including office, cultural and residential buildings. 1 Undershaft is his first major skyscraper project.

Images by DBOX for Eric Parry Architects.

  • chris

    It’s unfortunate that you will hardly see this building behind the ugly slab that is 22 Bishopsgate next door. More views down the Thames would be good to see. The top of the building needs finessing. No attempt seems to have been made to lighten the crown, which I think will help.

  • Thomas

    I think this is so much better than Norman Foster’s “blob”. But then again, it’s a little sad to see London filling up with all these skyscrapers.

  • Guest

    Great architecture. It’s so ambitious and current, or even futuristic. It’s even more futuristic and exciting than anything built 30 years ago. Hands down this must be the tallest tower in the city of London.

    • JayCee

      Mr Parry, I presume?

      • guest

        I was being sarcastic.

        • JayCee

          So was I. Although it does sound like something he might actually say.

    • Concerned Citizen

      New? Facetious? John Hancock Building, completed in 1970?

      • Andy

        The John Hancock is far, far better than this.

        • Concerned Citizen

          No argument there. But then, sequels are never as good as the original.

  • Roberto Sideris

    “While the ground level will feature a pubic square”. I hope that’s just a spelling mistake.

    • Thomas

      You’re the millionth person who discovered that spelling mistake. The third who commented on it.

    • Eek! Thanks for pointing that out. We’ve updated the article accordingly.

  • k0n

    Where was the proofreader? “The ground level will feature a pubic square”.

  • Chris MacDonald

    I feel absolutely nothing when I look at this. Filler material.

  • Jonathon

    The square mile is starting to look a little snug.

  • James

    My apologies, but “Undershaft”? Please forgive me for being an utter child, but I suspect that the word “shaft” will be getting plenty of air in the London press soon. At least it’s not round as well.

    Also, do you think that the free public space at the top will allow you to stare at the equally bewildered occupants of the other freely accessible public spaces of nearby skyscrapers? Provocation of freely accessible public-space envy? I’m sure there’s a German word somewhere that describes that perfectly.

  • SWPOS

    “The ground level will feature a pubic square”? Mmmmm… Can’t wait for that.

  • kimmi

    I think it’s hideous. And boring. The cross-bracing look is so overdone in the City.

  • flockingadeadhorse

    Opening up the ground floor to be a public square is nothing new. The Cheesegrater next door did the exact same thing.

    • Thomas

      Who said it was new? You discard everything that is not new?

    • spadestick

      “Pubic”.

  • Tom

    This is definitely going to solve the housing crisis!

  • Kay

    Well designed, symmetrical, not too flamboyant. With it potentially seeing daylight after 22 Bishopsgate, maybe, just maybe, the City will start shifting from looking like something you’d find in a kitchen pantry to an actual financial and commercial downtown.

    • mr ok

      This shows why Europe declines so quickly. It simply runs out of ideas in every aspect and has nothing to lead in the field…

  • Git

    Another architect with a small penis? Oh I get it, 1 Undershaft! But seriously, what is it with this “mine is bigger than yours”? London is getting littered with ego-trips rather than good architecture.

    • Thomas

      The architect has very little say in both height and naming this building.

  • Guest

    Nothing to write home about but at least it looks like a proper skyscraper, so it won’t be burdened with a silly name. How refreshing.

    • Jordan

      I have a feeling ‘shaft’ may be the name.

  • anton

    What are you doing? London is becoming so ugly.

    • Beautyon

      You would never say this if you were one of the people who designed this building. London is not a museum, and its skyline is not a painting you own.

  • Arch Reem Yasir

    Goodbye London! I hope to visit you before all of these skyscrapers pop up! :(

  • Manky

    Oh I love this. Sexy, sturdy, modern, masculine; grrrrrrr.

    • Mr J

      Yeah right. Tedious piece of boredom.

  • H-J

    Uninspiring and generic. SOM, Foster and Rogers on Prozac…

  • Not bad

    It’s not going to ruin the skyline like PLP tower is.

  • Concerned Citizen

    John Hancock, Rev 2.

  • peter

    How about, “The Stent”?

  • Roberto Sideris

    A fantastic piece of architecture. The regular rectangular cube has been pushed out of architecture for its over-simplicity, yet here we see it re-imagined. The exposed structural element is a great detail to add some individuality to the regular shape.

    Most importantly, I believe, is the addition of a free public platform. Whilst other buildings such as the Shard, Gherkin, Walkie Talkie and London Eye have tried to monopolise the view of 16 million souls, this building will invariably become the public’s favourite as it provides a ‘free’ view of the city (and also help it receive planning).

    • Stephen

      A fantastic piece of architecture is stretching it somewhat. It’s a basic design aimed at maximising the biggest returns for the Singaporean investment company. As for the free public space, it is nothing more than a cynical addition to help push it through planning. It will come with a whole host of caveats. It might be open to the public and it maybe free but I really doubt it will become the public’s favourite free public space for a view of the city.

    • pkpk

      Architects have destroyed their own profession.

  • jacmat

    Wow, talk about dense…

  • nick

    I can barely imagine how boring working on this building to bring it to completion will be.

  • Mr J

    “Sexless, boxy, old-fashioned.”

  • IDRACULA

    The cluster massing of these buildings pits one against the other. All are losers.

  • BeggarBoy

    Looks like the launch pad for the Gherkin rocket.

  • Shane Warne

    I thought 1 Undershaft was intended to have more of an obelisk shape? Damn, I wanted more Masonic-looking buildings! And to match 1 Canada square. :-(