London will be studied as a model of urban transformation, thanks to the powers-that-be of financial capitalism. In less than twenty years, the decadent capital of the 1980s became a vibrant metropolis whose economic success was materialized in the erratic skyline that now characterizes the City, the first landmark of which was Norman Foster’s building at 30 St Mary Axe. Now, fifteen years after London’s first skyscraper, Foster + Partners has presented the project for a 305-meter tower-vantage point that, if carried out, will be the British capital’s tallest construction, overtaking Renzo Piano’s Shard.
If the organic forms of 30 St Mary Axe gave it the nickname The Gherkin, the high-rise planned for the site right next to it will resemble a bulbous tulip, or perhaps the phallus that all skyscrapers symbolize at heart. Funded by the current owner of The Gherkin, J. Safra Sarasin Group, The Tulip will serve only ludic purposes, with transparent sky bridges and pod rides bound to thrill tourists but not certain Londoners and specialized critics, who only see a dispensable icon.