If the Tulip is ever built, it will enter the rarefied group of high-profile observation towers across the world.Unlike Toronto’s CN Tower or Berlin’s Fernsehturm, these towers are principally built to provide an observation deck rather than for aerial or communication purposes. As such, they are usually conceived as architectural works with dynamic visual form, as well as projects with structural and engineering prowess.
The Tulip. Location: London, England. Designed by: Foster + Partners. Year built: Construction not started. Height: 305.3m. If the Tulip is ever built, it will enter the rarefied group of high-profile observation towers across the world.Unlike Toronto’s CN Tower or Berlin’s Fernsehturm, these towers are principally built to provide an observation deck rather than for aerial or communication purposes. As such, they are usually conceived as architectural works with dynamic visual form, as well as projects with structural and engineering prowess.
Source: Foster + Partners
British Airways i360. Location: Brighton, England. Designed by: Marks Barfield, architect. Year built: 2016. Height: 162m. Marks Barfield’s £46m follow-up to the London Eye features a single fully enclosed pod that travels up and down a vertical shaft to allow panoramic views of the southern English coast. While the venue receives almost 800,000 annual visitors and has led to other potential similar commissions across the world, the project has faced stern criticism from locals, some of whom claim it is “profoundly out of keeping with the rest of the seafront”.
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Orbit. Location: London, England. Designed by: Anish Kapoor, sculptor. Year built: 2012. Height: 114m. Arguably the only observation deck to double as a work of art, the Orbit is in fact Europe’s tallest public sculpture. The Orbit was a late addition to the Olympic Park masterplan for the London 2012 Olympic Games, with former mayor Boris Johnson seeking a cultural landmark for the park that would rival the Statue of Liberty. What he got was controversial steel abstraction of the five rings of the Olympic logo.
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Eiffel Tower. Location: Paris, France. Designed by: Gustave Eiffel, civil engineer. Year built: 1889. Height: 324m. The most famous observation tower in the world started out as a centrepiece of a world fair celebrating the centenary of the French Revolution. Despite coming in for savage criticism in its early years, it is now revered as an engineering marvel that has come to symbolise its city and country across the globe. So much so that even arch-rival London attempted its own version with the ill-fated Watkin’s Tower at Wembley in the 1890s.
Emirates Spinnaker Tower. Location: Portsmouth, England. Designed by: HGP Greentree Allchurch & Evans, architect. Year built: 2005. Height: 170m. The Millennium spawned the London Eye, which has gone on to enjoy astonishing levels of success. But though Spinnaker Tower was conceived to celebrate the event, it was dogged by a catalogue of problems. These ranged from a five-year delay in opening to the “wrong kind of wind” causing a Plymouth council boss to get stuck in a lift in its opening ceremony. But today it is one of the leading visitor attractions on the South Coast.
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Space Needle. Location: Seattle, US. Designed by: John Graham & Company. Year built: 1962. Height: 184m. Like the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle was developed for a World’s Fair and has gone on to become a defining symbol of its city. Also, like many similar structures of the same period, such as Sydney Tower and London’s BT Tower, it features a revolving restaurant. The tower’s elegant, tapering form belies astounding structural stability – it is designed to withstand Category 5 hurricanes and 9.1 magnitude earthquakes.
Nicholas Hare Architects was faced with an unusual set of challenges in its refurbishment of UCL’s Bloomsbury Theatre, which is wrapped around by a variety of other university facilities that had to remain open during works.
In the forest of tall and quirky structures that is the City of London, it’s beginning to seem that nothing is too bizarre to get built. So why has Fosters’ proposed Tulip prompted such a barrage of opposition? And will it nevertheless gain approval?