Vinoly design is a "child's concept"

Former Riba president George Ferguson has criticised Rafael Vinoly’s designs for the ‘Walkie Talkie’ tower at 20 Fenchurch Street

In an interview with City AM, Ferguson said the Land Securities tower was a “child’s concept” and that London’s skyline was too important for “ugly buildings”.

Rafael Vinoly’s 20 Fenchurch Street
Ferguson: Land Securities "clearly taken in by a star architect in Rafael Vinoly"

“You can justify these buildings in London if they are exceptionally good, but this is a child’s concept,” he said. “[Land Securities] were clearly taken in by a star architect in Rafael Vinoly”

The 160-metre tower, nick named the Walkie Talkie because of its concave shape, became the subject of a public enquiry at the behest of communities minister Ruth Kelly.

English Heritage has been hugely critical of the tower, though CABE has approved the design after initial reservations.

In its evidence to the public enquiry, English Heritage said: "The result [of Vinoly's proposal] would be an oppressive and overwhelming form that would have an uncomfortable relationship with the surrounding historic streets, buildings and spaces."

It added that the impact would be exacerbated by the "disturbing, attention seeking form of the proposed building".

In its initial review of the tower’s design, CABE said it was too bulky and criticised the environmental strategy, but subsequent modifications have addressed its concerns:

“We believe that the reduced height, the expanded public room at the top of the building, and the remodelling of the design will result in a more successful scheme in the round,” it said in its final review.

CABE director of architecture and design review Selina Mason added: “We believe this design would enhance the experience of a world city, driven by the character and dynamism of a thriving commercial economy.”

The public enquiry on the tower commenced last week and is expected to end today. A result will not be known for several weeks.