Eric Parry submits plans for Western Europe’s joint-tallest building

The plans include the demolition of the 28-storey Aviva Tower, which was built in the 1960s. The existing tower has an unusual structure, with floors suspended from projected steel truss sections held by a concrete core. This means the demolition of floors will have to take place from bottom to top.

If 1 Undershaft does get built, it will rise above Foster + Partners’ nearby Gherkin (180m) and RSHP’s Leadenhall building (224m).


Picture courtesy: DBOX

‘The top section of the building retains the consented volume and tapered profile, and at its top two levels retain the free-to-visit public viewing gallery along with dedicated education spaces, both curated by the London Museum.’

Plans for the external cross-bracing structure appear to have been discarded, with computer-generated images of the latest three-part skyscraper showing a grid-like glazed façade with horizontal articulations.

The City of London approved previous plans by the practice for a 289m-tall building on the plot near the Gherkin and the Cheesegrater, in 2019. Under the consented plans, a 73-storey cuboid tower was set to feature an external cross-bracing structure with 90,000m² of office space.

However, development manager Stanhope and architect Eric Parry Architects have now submitted a fresh application for a tower featuring an 11-storey podium topped by three stepped glazed volumes broken up by outdoor amenity spaces.

It adds: ‘The new stepped massing of the building introduces improvements to the public and workplace offer in terms of wellbeing and urban greening by providing outdoor amenity spaces throughout the building.

‘Exciting new public realm experiences are provided at ground and at an elevated public podium garden at level 11, supported by new food and flexible cultural spaces at levels 10, 11 and 12.

The new larger design, which is backed by Singaporean developer Aroland Holdings, provides 160,000m² of office space and a further 20,000m² of other space, including public realm.

Source:DBOX/Eric Parry/One Undershaft

The proposal is one storey – or 5m – taller than the consented design. The building would be the tallest in the eastern cluster at 309.6m, and equal in height to the The Shard, according to the project team.

Doubt surrounded the previous 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. 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.

The new planning application states the redesigned 1 Undershaft tower ‘follows a re-evaluation and response to the post-pandemic needs, revised market demands, and the changing context and aspirations of the City of London’.

According to the AJ’s sister title Construction News, at 309.64m tall, the revised scheme would be the same height as Renzo Piano’s Shard – the current holder of both the UK and Western Europe’s tallest building titles.