Eric Parry releases revised designs for City’s tallest tower

Revealed ahead of a planning application expected next year, the new renders show what a 74-storey tower would look like if approved by City of London planners.

As the AJ reported earlier in August, the Eric Parry redesign of One Undershaft replaces the earlier tapered 73-storey design – which was handed consent in 2016 – with a new-look three-part skyscraper.

The refreshed design’s lower element features a podium with public garden on the 11th floor, which has been designed in collaboration with Danish landscape architects Stig Lennart Andersson. The ninth and 10th floors of this part, facing Leadenhall Street and St Mary Axe, have been earmarked for food, drink and cultural uses.

Eric Parry says the podium garden has been raised from the 10th to 11th storey to reduce shading on ground level.

The design team says the latest scheme provides more daylight and less wind at ground level then the 2016 design, with 3,600m² more public space and greater amounts of urban greening.

An educational centre in partnership with the Museum of London and a public viewing gallery – the tallest in London – will take up floors 73 and 74. At 304.94m tall, the scheme would be the same height as Renzo Piano’s Shard.

The façade has also evolved to incorporate passive shading and large windows, with a crown  now formed of an ‘expressed structure of four floors, with the two topmost giving the panoramic views for the public’.

Source:DBOX/Eric Parry/One Undershaft

Picture courtesy: DBOX

Overall, the development, which is backed by Singaporean developer Aroland Holdings, is set to be around 27,500m² larger in floor area than the original scheme, increasing from 90,000m² to 117,000m² according to details set out in the scoping application lodged in July. That equates to a 20 per cent increase in office space.

As with the previous scheme, an existing 23-storey office will be demolished as part of the development. Although permission on the original consent does not run out until 8 November 2024 (under an extension agreed with the City of London in 2019) the AJ understands this design has now been dropped.

‘The ways that we use buildings have evolved significantly’

Speaking to the AJ in August, Eric Parry said the rework of the One Undershaft design was prompted by changes to working habits following the pandemic, noting ‘the ways that we use buildings have evolved significantly’.

‘In light of this, we are currently working with our client to explore opportunities to enhance the consented scheme through the provision of new flexible workspaces and expanded civic and business functions.

‘The new scheme will still be the tallest in the city cluster and retains the upper floors for educational and public access through a collaboration with the Museum of London. The revised proposals will enable us to deliver a more sustainable building with enhanced urban greening.’

When Eric Parry first unveiled designs for the site in 2015, the scheme boasted a height of 309.6m, but this was reduced because of a 5m intrusion into City Airport’s flight path. It is unclear what the airport’s position is on the new proposal.

Some doubt has surrounded the 2016 scheme since at least 2019, when investor Perennial Real Estate Holdings decided not to acquire a 20 per cent stake in Aroland Holding as a result of ‘uncertain’ timing over the proposals.

Source:Eric Parry Architects

Eric Parry Architects’ reworked design for One Undershaft

Councillors on the City of London’s Planning and Transportation Committee said in 2016 that approval of the original plans showed the City was ‘open for business’ following the Brexit vote five months earlier. The Covid-19 pandemic then followed.

Two public drop-in sessions are being held on 23 November and 6 December at St Ethleburga’s Church in the City of London as part of a second consultation.

Construction will take around five years, with enabling works starting in 2024 and construction finishing in 2029, subject to planning. Completion on the earlier scheme was due in the mid-2020s.

If One Undershaft does get built, it will rise above Foster + Partners’ nearby Gherkin (180m) and RSHP’s Leadenhall building (224m).