Is this the first Megacity? New multi-purpose London skyscraper


Its something we see in sci-fi movies like Judge Dredd and Star Wars, megacities with towering, multi-purpose skyscrapers. This could however soon become a reality. Entitled the ‘Endless City’ project it would see a giant 300m skyscraper built in London with its own complete ecosystem. The building would consist of intertwining ramps leading through business, shopping, entertainment and residential areas.

The proposal has been drawn up by SURE Architecture, the firm insists the building would be a great space-saver in dense cities which have previously spread outwards rather than upwards – London is a perfect example of this. Although the skyscraper is only at design phase, the company has earmarked a location close to the City of London. Early indications suggest the building could top 300m – around the same size as London’s tallest skyscraper The Shard.

The company’s report says that different areas of the building would be linked by a series of bridges and walkways helping to ‘increase exchanges, communications and interactions. It would include a raft of public spaces, entertainment zones and shopping areas to create a ‘vertical city’. Residents would be able to walk up a series of interlinked ramps through vibrant streets, plazas, technological spaces and huge parks in a complex and rich system like a real city.


‘Kingdom Tower’ in Saudi Arabia Will One Day Be the World’s Tallest Building


Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world, so it isn’t surprising really that the wealthy Middle Eastern country is set to begin construction next week on what will be the world’s tallest building standing at a whopping 3,280 feet.

Kingdom Tower will be 568 feet taller than the Khalifa Tower, which is the current Guinness World Record holder for the tallest building in neighbouring Dubai. The tower is the first phase of Jeddah Economic Company’s approximately $20 billion, 17 million-square-foot Kingdom City project, of which it will be the focal point. Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, is chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company, a partner in JEC.

“Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit of Saudi Arabia,” Adrian Smith, cofounder of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the firm that designed the tower, said in a press release. “This tower symbolizes the Kingdom as an important global business and cultural leader, and demonstrates the strength and creative vision of its people.”

Foundation work for the $1.2 billion skyscraper began in December, and above-ground work will start April 27. The 200-floor tower will be located in Jeddah, a culturally significant city near the Red Sea that is known as the gateway to Mecca.

A building this size doesn’t come without its challenges, however. Concerns include resistance to salt water and high winds, as well as how concrete will be delivered to higher floors, as the tower is erected. The construction site itself is 5.7 million square feet, and the project will require around 80,000 tons of steel, according to the Saudi Gazette. Despite these potential roadblocks, the skyscraper is still a realistic undertaking that could eventually be seen through to completion, Construction Weekly reported.

Kingdom Tower will house a Four Seasons hotel, luxury condominiums, office space and an observatory. Kind of makes London’s Shard look rather pathetic really…

A Few Pictures of London This Week

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I’m very fortunate to work in the City of London, which means I get to see these marvellous sites every day.





London’s high rise skyline is beginning to take shape.. Good or bad thing?


For almost 300 years the 365ft high St Paul’s Cathedral dominated the central London skyline, now however it is met with heavy competition. In today’s London there are almost 250 proposed skyscrapers, with many already approved or under construction, it is feared that soon Sir Christopher Wren’s famous City streets will be engulfed by glass structures. Of course every city needs to grow and develop over time. With every new skyscraper there is more functional work spaces created, providing thousands of jobs and more places to house an ever expanding population. See below the future skyline of London, better than the city of old?



London’s Skyscraper the ‘Walkie Talkie’ will have Europe’s highest floating Garden


One of the City of London’s latest skyline additions, the giant ‘Walkie Talkie’ will be topped by an exotic ‘floating roof garden’ that will be the highest in Europe. The developers of the 580 ft high skyscraper which is due to open in just under a year’s time, are using the landscapers behind the award winning Olympic Park to install more than 2000 sub-tropical plants.

The terraced ‘hanging gardens of modern Babylon’ will be dominated by drought resistant Mediterranean and South African flowers, shrubs and ferns because of the ‘greenhouse effect’ of the domed glass summit of the 38 storey block on Fenchurch Street. Stephen Richards, a partner at the London based garden designers Gillespies told the Evening Standard:

”The gardens will be totally unique in London, the largest and most exciting of their kind. It will like being in an eyrie. There will be a series of platforms where there will be seating so you will be able to immerse yourself in plants and colour while still being aware that you are very high up to get that sense of a floating garden.”

Experts from Kew Gardens also advised on the garden design and selection of plants, which will be in soil up to a metre deep and cover almost a fifth of an acre. Around 100 different species have been used including Golden tree fern, New Zealand tree fern, king sago cycad, varieties of fig and flowers including Agapanthus, Strelitizia and Crocosmia. They will be watered from rainwater from the roof, some of which will be turned into a fine mist from poles.

Temperatures are expected to reach the high twenties degrees centigrade in summer but the gardens will be partially shaded by giant “fins” arching over them with a breeze from an open terrace. “It will not be an unbearable hot box, that’s not what it’s about,” said Richards. The gardens will also supply rosemary, thyme and other herbs for three restaurants due to open at the top of the Rafael Viñoly designed block in the heart of London’s insurance district.


The building – officially known as 20 Fenchurch Street – will add to the rapidly growing range of “skyscraper dining” options in the capital. There will be a “sky garden” champagne bar on the 35th floor with the Darwin Brasserie above and the more expensive Fenchurch Seafood Bar and Grill on the 37th level,

They will all be operated by Royal Ascot and Henley Regatta caterers rhubarb, which have agreed a tie-up with Heston Blumenthal to design dishes for events menus. The restaurants are on a slightly higher levels than the three dining outlets halfway up the Shard but just below Duck & Waffle and Sushisamba at the top of the nearby Heron Tower on Bishopsgate. The restaurants at the Walkie Talkie, being developed jointly by Canary Wharf and Land Securities, are due to launch in summer 2014

They will all be open from 8am to midnight with dishes such as Grilled sea bream fillet, steamed spinach and citrus fruits at the brasserie and Fruits de Mer with champagne gelée, cucumber ribbons, tomato concassé, rouille, croûtes and Melba toast at The Fenchurch. Although the gardens and restaurants are under glass visitors can wander out to a terrace overlooking the Thames with spectacular views of landmarks such as The Shard, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.


London’s skyscraper Pinnacle to get the greenlight with ‘impossible’ design

Aerial rendering of The Pinnacle in context

Just the other week I uploaded a piece on the ‘ye olde London’ architecture slowly disappearing across the City, and how it was such a shame that amazing Imperial & Roman inspired structures were being replaced. However i also understand the need for more office space and how a huge skyscraper can very much benefit the cities economy. If i was Prime Minister i would bring about restricted high density zones where skyscrapers were allowed but bring back old style architecture in places like the West End and inner City, but anyway..

The next Skyscraper due to make it’s mark in London is the so named ‘Pinnacle’. To some of you it may sound familiar, in fact the Pinnacle has been in the planning and early stages of development for years. However it was halted in late 2012 and a review process launched because of spiralling costs and serious concerns over the buildings feasibility. Leading designers linked to the plans had said the distinctive “helter skelter” appearance wanted by the developers was far too complicated, requiring every single window to be a slightly different size.

Now the extensive review is coming to an end and despite the criticism to the exterior design, no changes have been made to its outer design at all. Architects KPF were asked to start a redesign in October 2012 – and reports suggest they have successfully cut costs without compromising on the tower’s bizarre visual image. Changes have instead been made to the floor plans and interior, with retail space sacrificed in favour of more room for commercial offices and a larger atrium.

Ken Shuttleworth, the chief executive of Make, told Building magazine: “The geometry of the Pinnacle is impossible. It makes the Swiss Re look simple.”

It is understood that the new designs could still require further planning permission, though it is yet to be sought. If its construction goes ahead, Pinnacle will be the second-tallest skyscraper in the UK. Currently no more than a concrete “stump” at 200 Bishopsgate, it has a budget twice that of the £450 million Shard and would tower over Canary Wharf’s One Canada Square.

The Lost London: Glorious Architecture lost in London over the years


Samuel Johnson said: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” London has been a major settlement since its founding by the Romans who named it Londinium, it now sits comfortably as the largest city in the European Union. Over the years it has naturally changed in shape, size and most notable function, whereas the city less than 100 years ago was considered a global trading hub it has now been completely converted to financial capital. However one change that is not so welcome is the current mass change in architecture taking place across the capital.

Much of the Tudor and Stuart era architecture was lost during the 1666 Great Fire of London where 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St Pauls Cathedral and most of the buildings of the City authorities were consumed in flames. It is estimated that the homes of 70,000 of the City’s 80,000 inhabitants were destroyed.


Following these events, radical rebuilding schemes for the gutted city poured in. If it had been rebuilt under some of these plans London would have rivalled Paris in Baroque magnificence. With various complexities arising of ownership of the land being left unresolved, none of the Baroque schemes for the City of piazzas and avenues could be realised; there was nobody to negotiate with and no means of calculating how much compensation should be paid. Instead much of the old street plan was recreated in the new City, with improvements in hygiene and fire safety: wider streets, open and accessible wharves along the length of the Thames, with no houses obstructing access to the river, and, most importantly buildings constructed of brick and stone, not wood. New public buildings were created on their predecessors sites; perhaps the most famous is St Pauls Cathedral and its smaller cousins, Christopher Wren’s 50 new churches.

On King Charles’ initiative, a Monument to the Great Fire of London, designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke was erected near Pudding Lane. Standing 61 metre (200 ft) tall and known simply as ‘The Monument’, it is a familiar London landmark even today. Another monument, the Golden Boy of Pye Corner in Smithfield, marks the spot where the fire stopped. Following the fire, the thoroughfares of Queen Street and King Street were newly laid out, cutting across more ancient thoroughfares in the City, creating a new route up from the Thames to the Guildhall, they were the only notable new streets following the fires destruction of much of the City.

Now the London that was built following the Great Fire is under threat from modern developments and this isn’t the first time. In the late 1800’s various buildings were taken down redesigned and then rebuilt however these were done in a similar Georgian/Victorian/Edwardian style. Following the Blitz of the Second World War many more buildings across the City were lost – these were the original structures from the likes of Wren. These were not rebuilt, but instead replaced with cheaper alternatives. In the 1960’s however many more were demolished and built over with the ugly post-war period architecture, some of which still stands today.

Today this architecture is now being overshadowed and in some cases again replaced by modern alternatives, big glass buildings now rise up through London’s skyline. A once ancient and glorious in design City is now slowly disappearing. Below i have put a gallery of the London of old, Roman inspired, imperial and glorious.

See London Light Up in This Amazing Time-lapse Video


Restless Nights by Paul Richardson Photography

During October I spent 8 days cycling 200 miles around London whilst carrying 22kg of camera gear. That week consisted of 3 main tasks. Lots of shooting, transferring photos onto the laptop, and a little bit of sleep.

By the end of it I was physically drained – to the point where I thought I’d collapse on the final cycle back. Thankfully I didn’t and managed to make it back in one piece. The raw result was 18,000 photos spanning 364 GB of harddrive space. Cue a few weeks of editing, and I managed to produce the final video.

Whenever I visit London I’m always surprised by the true 24/7 nature of the city; it really is a place that never sleeps. That was exactly what I wanted to capture, the ‘hustle and bustle’ of everyday life. Unfortunately the weather was true to English standards, and it rained pretty much every single day, forcing me to shoot at night.

To keep up to date with my latest work, you can find me on facebook at For the tech-heads, I used a Canon 6D, 17-40 f4, 50mm 1.8, and a 70-200 f4. The motion control sequences were shot on a home built dolly, coupled to a emotimo TB3.

Crystal Palace will be reborn, Chinese billionaire unveils ambitiuous plans to rebuild the Victorian Structure


A Chinese billionaire today unveiled impressive plans to rebuild the iconic Crystal Palace glass structure nearly 80 years after it burned down. The building, which  was once the largest glass structure in the world, was destroyed in a blaze in 1936 and has never been rebuilt.

The new build will cost £500 million and is set to be of the ‘same size and scale’ as the gigantic pre-fabricated building of iron and glass designed by Joseph Paxton for the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. It was later expanded and relocated to south  London and the area became known as Crystal Palace.

The project on Penge Common, near Sydenham Hill,  south-east London, will be bankrolled by Chinese real estate mogul Ni Zhaoxing’s investment  firm ZhongRong Group. The surrounding public park is also to be restored ‘to its former glory through landscaping, planting and new and improved facilities for the public.”

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