The London Tower: Home and Away.

Designing a city is a complex business. There are commercial and development pressures to be considered. But a city is more
than just a continual investment of capital and occupation of new space. It has an identity. Sometimes only a local one. But sometimes
a global one.

Sometimes a remembered one.

What gives a city its identity? Consider how much of your city can you change and still have your city recognised for the qualities that others
currently value. Ask yourself what attributes are different to other cities and what are the same.

Is going higher the best option? How should it be done? Why should it be done? And when should it be done?

If the skyline was to change which buildings would you miss?


8 thoughts on “The London Tower: Home and Away.

  1. Tom Turner

    I am attracted by the idea of formulating city plans for 3 different timescales:
    3 years: plans which can be detailed and implemented
    30 years: plans which can be agreed and envisioned but which are going to take a long time
    300 years: plans which are purely conceptual. They can have no legislative or administrative force, because the present generation cannot legislate for future generations. So they will depend entirely on the quality of their ideas to have any chance of implementation.

    300 year plans tend to be very important and very neglected. The figure comes from the time interval between Le Notre’s plan for the Tuileries, in 1664. and the decision to project his axis into La Defense and beyond. This is the axis which provides the key to the urban identity of Paris. The London equivalent is the network of hunting parks which became public parks at roughly the same time (the mid seventeenth century) and which became incorporated into the Abercrombie Open Space Plan in 1944.
    The use of red in the above illustration of Broadgate suggests, as you imply, another candidate for a 300-year London plan: the adoption of red as the city’s emblematic colour. I had a small metal model of Tower Bridge (when I was about 5 years old) which was painted in exactly this shade of red. So I have never been able to get used to seeing the bridge in other colours and I keep wondering if it would look better if re-painted (including the stonework!) in its ‘proper’ colour.

  2. Christine

    Once again I suppose I think whether a city has a plan and what time scale the plan is on would need to be based on the individual city.

    All cities are different. Some start life very haphazardly while others are imagined comprehensively by a brilliant mind.

    Consider Washington. The 1901 McMillan plan for Washington was undertaken because the city had departed from the original plan by L’Enfant, so an attempt was made to recover what had been lost in so far as this could be achieved.
    [ ]

    Before repainting your toy tower bridge in red I would suggest trying out the colour on a model first (stonework included). [ ]

  3. Poppy

    I am very interested and surprised that you believe what the Chinese government have said about the planning and landscape design. Good!

  4. Tom Turner

    When people say the right thing, it is tempting to believe them. That is often how politicians get elected. With regard to the Chinese Government, my own ill-informed impression, is that with regard to external affairs they are more honest than most big countries and I can’t think of any ghastly crimes, like the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior by the French in 1985. They sent a team to blow up the ship and then lied about having done so. Neighbouring countries never forget a good grievance and so this reminded many English people of the Dreyfus affair. I prefer it when governments and people tell the truth, even if the truths are unpleasant.

  5. Christine

    Poppy, if the Chinese government is not to be believed when they criticise planning and landscape design, you will have to translate for me what they are attempting to achieve by their comments.

  6. Poppy

    OK, it is better to pause this topic and have a cup of coffee in the garden, listening to the whisper between the slight rain and falling leaves.

  7. Tom Turner

    Thank you for a beautiful phrase about ‘listening to the whisper between the slight rain and falling leaves’, and for me reminding me of an ‘activity’ for which there is much better provision in Chinese gardens than in European gardens from any era.


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