Our Changing City Scapes – How Do We Balance the Modern with the Traditional?

London is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Pictures and paintings of the iconic skyline adorn the walls (and Instagram pages) of people all over the globe. While the skyline is iconic, it is ever changing – and this change is not to everyone’s taste. With the increase in modern buildings comes a desire to push the boundaries of architectural design, to not only create a visual identity, but also a building that offers maximum space. The question is, how do we en-sure we don’t overstep the mark with modern design and ensure our modern builds still sit comfortably next to the classic architecture that has made London such an amazing city?

Currently, the number of towers that are planned – or in development – in London has hit a new record of 541. This is an enormous amount of buildings to squeeze into the already heavily populated city. All of these buildings are impressive when it comes to their design, and have high specification in terms of both structural design and build, as well as fit out. However, not everyone is open to the changes that are on the horizon for our Capital. Should there be so many changes to such a quintessential view?

The Tulip, for example, has been heavily criticised. While planning permission was granted in April, Mayor Sadiq Khan has since raised a number of concerns on a London Review Panel Report that the building would harm the skyline and have few public benefits, so planning has now been rejected.

Designed by Foster + Partners, The Tulip would have stood at 305-metres, tower-ing over London, and the unmissable look of this building would have surely made a big impact on its skyline. Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said the tower would damage London’s historic views. But how can the view be historic when it is constantly changing? This is not the first time there has been negativity surrounding a new skyscraper proposed in the city. When The Shard was erected in 2012 it was described as a blot on London’s skyline, now it is considered one of the most beautiful buildings and is accepted in many images of the city.

Modern architecture divides opinion. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is not possible to construct or design a building that everyone will admire. People criticising get so caught up in the outside of a building and barely stop to think of the functions that will come with each tower that is constructed. They don’t stop to think of the much needed homes and office spaces that will be created. There is little room left in London to construct spacious one or two storey buildings, so, it really does seem that the only way is up! Buildings with useful spaces will naturally be added to the already long list of towers in London.

Having had the opportunity to work on the fit out of a number of tall buildings in London, including Novotel Hotel in Canary Wharf and the Scalpel, we understand the beauty that these tall towers bring. Both the inside and outside of a building should be considered before any criticism is made about it. We have worked in some truly striking  buildings and some classically created buildings. But what really matters is what’s on the inside; how people use these stunning, or not so stunning spaces that have been constructed for them.

London doesn’t look the same as it did 100 years ago, it doesn’t even look the same as it did one year ago and that is the beauty of this city. We should embrace the ever-changing skyline because that is what makes it unique. Every time you look out to the horizon, there might be a new building that enables someone to have their dream home, their dream job or learn something new. At Planet, we care about making the interior of a building beautiful and functional; whether it’s a tower or a one-storey space. While the exterior of a building may not be to your taste, remember that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

By Genghis Akay, Sales Director, Planet Partitioning