How The Shaft will rival The Shard for coolest skyscraper in London

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How The Shaft will rival The Shard for coolest skyscraper in London

Eric Parry is the architect behind a new City super-skyscraper — and he won’t let Brexit stand in his way, he tells Robert Bevan

Much of modern London has been built by architects who most Londoners will never have heard of: offices by corporate companies such as Aecom, HOK and Aukett Swanke, or housing projects by specialists such as Squire & Partners. Architectural celebrities such as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano are asked to tackle the fancy sugar-work: the Gherkins, the Cheesegraters, the Shards.

Which is why Eric Parry being commissioned to design the tallest skyscraper in the City of London makes you sit up and take notice. Parry, an intellectual architect’s architect, is known for his interest in craft techniques — ceramics, woodwork, stitched leather. Earlier in his career he was designing artists’ studios and self-confessed “eccentric things in France”.

Admittedly the studios were for the likes of Antony Gormley, and the French project was a château in Albi, but these are not the big shiny things office developers tend to plump for.

Yet Parry’s 1 Undershaft, should it get approval at a planning meeting in September, will see the capital’s tower cluster crowned with an elegant 73-storey square column of white enamel louvres framed within rusted steel cross-braces. It will match the Shard in height (309.6m) and be topped with a free viewing gallery that, if discussions are fruitful, will include school classrooms run by the Museum of London. Architecturally it’s a statement of solidity rather than faux- transparency. […]