Published: January, 2017
It seems that each week, plans to build a new skyscraper in London are announced. 1 Undershaft, nicknamed “The Trellis”, got the green light at the end of last year and is set to be the tallest tower in Square Mile. But with every new project comes a series of questions about the impact another tower will have on the capital’s skyline.
As the buildings grow taller, what does this mean for the surrounding area at street level? Public realm should be an important consideration when planning any new development. This blog looks at where public realm works fit into the plans of proposed tall buildings throughout the capital.
So why is public realm so important when planning and designing skyscrapers? As we know, towers are isolated spaces in the air, acting as a series of standalone buildings. While they work together to make an impressive view from a height, the ground level area can sometimes be left in the dark and ultimately becomes detached from the rest of the area. It’s important that the spaces between each of these impressive towers connect users with the outside world, each building seamlessly leading onto the next. The area surrounding each impressive development must also encourage the public to roam freely. Shutting people off should be avoided, to encourage the development of free flowing spaces.
The architect behind 1 Undershaft, Eric Parry, has spoken about the importance of focusing on providing public realm space at ground level. He described the planned skyscraper as an improvement to the public realm surrounding nearby towers, including The Leadenhall Building. Parry said that his designs would transform the area into a free flowing landscape, which is a key indicator of a good use of public realm.
Historic England has also spoken about the importance of considering the public realm when planning skyscrapers. It recommends that both internal and external areas should be considered when developing the public realm areas of a building. Local environmental factors such overshadowing, light pollution and the micro-climate surrounding the proposed development should also be considered in order to create a truly well designed building.
So how can the architecture industry continue to ensure public realm considerations remain a key focus in the development of future towers? Showing the benefits of creating public space in and around tall buildings is essential. Spaces that are designed to encourage free movement for all will result in a better connected community and will demonstrate the true benefits of tower developments, helping to move away from the perception of isolated and unfriendly skyscrapers towering over people.
Public realm can also be incorporated throughout a skyscraper’s many floors. One of the best ways to provide an environment for the public above ground is creating a roof terrace. This creates a space, open to all, where anyone can experience incredible city views that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to see otherwise. An excellent example of this would be the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch St. Since it opened in 2015, this roof terrace has become a popular destination and tourist attraction.
At Kinley, we believe public realm space should always be a key feature in any development. We’re proud to have worked with a number of projects that have had a clear focus on providing areas that connect a building with not only the outside environment but also people. Our specialist terrace package contains key products needed to create stunning outdoor areas. To find out more about the projects we’ve worked on, please click here product page.