Recently, there have been reports of Britain’s construction industry suffering from it’s ‘least optimistic’ period for five years, a slump that the reports put down to ‘fears over Brexit’ and ‘an economic slowdown’. However, the construction industry in London is still alive and well, and there are plans underway for the building of some truly awe-inspiring structures; created from a range of supplied concrete, steel & glass.
One Merchant Square, Westminster
Perhaps London’s most famous upcoming residential development, One Merchant Square, or ‘The Cucumber’ as it has been nicknamed, is the latest unusually-shaped skyscraper to be put into development. The 491ft structure includes 222 residential units, as well as a 90-room boutique hotel and even a ‘sky bar’ at the very top – ‘The Cucumber’ seems to have everything required for luxury modern living.
Outdoors, the complex will offer a ‘water maze’, so residents (or hotel guests) can enjoy a peaceful garden square within London’s constant motion. The Cucumber is designed by Robin Partington, who won the Carbuncle Cup for Strata, the residential block in Elephant & Castle which incorporates three wind turbines in its construction.
The building is expected to be completed in 2018. The structural material of choice is concrete – even the tallest of buildings can rely on its durability and strength!
London City Island, Newham
While One Merchant Square is one of the tallest developments in London, London City Island is far more expansive and generally ambitious than any one building. As the name suggests, the development is an island in central London, serving as the foundation for a residential complex of the utmost modernity and style.
It’s a 12 acre site, one that is surrounded by water but connected to ‘mainland’ London by a bespoke, specially-commissioned bridge. Described as offering a ‘warehouse aesthetic, open plan living spaces and loft style features’, the development offers accommodation ranging from studio flats to 4 bed apartments. The layout and design of the residential blocks is inspired by Manhattan, with grid-style façades giving room for wide windows and recessed terraces.
As well as the residential aspect of the island, the National Ballet are also relocating to the development. New rehearsal studios, made of glass to allow for passers by to catch a glimpse of dancers in action, spans 88,000ft2, creating a focal point for those who live, work or are simply visiting the island.
Manhattan Loft Gardens, Newham
Another project inspired by one of the most famous examples of island living, Manhattan Loft Gardens in Stratford is part of a series of construction developments that have been termed ‘nothing short of a renaissance’.
The skyscraper, the brainchild of Harry Handelsman and designed by architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, peaks at 42 storeys high, with 248 apartments and 146 hotel rooms available for long term and short term stays alike. It’s got three garden squares, but they’re not at the foot of the tower. The reimagined spaces are situated 95, 280 and 400 ft up respectively, giving three different panoramic viewpoints of London’s iconic skyline.
Each apartment is individually designed by Studio KO, the Parisian designers, and the communal spaces include a triple-height lobby, a bar and a restaurant. Residents and guests can also enjoy spa, gym and cinema trips without having to leave the building.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the skyscraper is the importance of cantilevers to the building’s structure. The entire tower will be held up by cantilevers, which cater for the garden spaces, which essentially cut into the side of the building. Building is expected to finish in 2018, and somebody has already snapped up the £10 million penthouse!
One Nine Elms, Wandsworth
One Nine Elms is Europe’s largest regeneration project. The aim of the development is to transform 3km of riverside land into a ‘residential space, international business district and outstanding cultural and leisure destination’.
The two towers that spearhead the development will offer 436 apartments, with the larger tower (City Tower) reaching a fraction under 200m into the London sky, with the smaller tower standing at 160m, offering 42 floors to City Tower’s 58. The smaller tower will be known as River Tower, and it’ll house a five-star hotel, which will be the first luxury hotel that owners Dalian Wanda have created outside of China.
The towers are sure to be the focal point of the development, but the wider project includes the building of 16,000 new homes, not to mention the relocation of the U.S Embassy in London from its home in Mayfair.
The project is expected to be completed in 2019, and in addition to the luxury living that the development will facilitate, Dalian Wanda were also required to contribute £20m for an extension to the Northern Line and for the construction of affordable housing in a separate location.
The construction projects we’ve touched on in this piece might well be the biggest, the most expensive and the most striking, but they’re just a few of the many developments that are taking place across the capital. From skyscrapers to Crossrail, innovative construction projects are taking place across London all-year round.