Lawyers for the Mayor of London have urged the government to reject the controversial Tulip Tower on the grounds that the Foster & Partners program would exclude visiting children and community groups from using key elements of the attraction.
An education center within the 305 m high tower, which is intended for a location within the eastern skyscraper group of the City of London, was named by developer Bury Street Properties as one of its main public benefits.
The building consists of a 12-story viewing area on a narrow concrete shaft or stem that rises from the plaza surrounding the Gherkin, also designed by Foster and owned by Bury Street.
Visitors to school and community groups would have free access to the education space on the bottom floor of the education area, but would not have access to several key features as paying visitors, including the glass slides and rotating gondolas attached to the outside of the education building.
Attorney Hereward Phillpot QC, who represents the mayor’s office, said in his final filing of a virtual public inquiry into the system that the education center’s location at the lowest level of usable space within the observation deck “reflects the socially stratified nature of the building.”
He added that restricting the “most exciting elements” of the attraction, the slides and gondolas, to paying customers “would inevitably reinforce the feeling that the experience of school children and community groups is worse than that of those who can afford it. to pay to use the above areas ”.
As evidence of a “clear lack of enthusiasm”, he also cited the fact that only three of the 74 schools invited to a beneficiary event sent representatives.
His remarks came on the last day of the investigation into the system. Bury Street Properties owner, billionaire Jacob J. Safra, appealed after Sadiq Khan rejected the proposals last summer and revoked the City Corporation’s building permit three months earlier.
Historical England has also objected to the project. His attorney Scott Lyness informed the investigation in his conclusion that the tower would cause “significant permanent damage” to the views of the nearby Tower of London.
Lyness said proponents of the proposals sought “to give this building a meaning and merit that it does not deserve when examined, a building that is in this place, driven by attention grabbing aspirations, its inherent need for prominence and a particular landmark status cannot plausibly be described as negligibly affecting the highly endangered area surrounding the Tower of London, one of the greatest historical monuments in the world. “
The tulip’s location on the eastern edge of the city’s skyscraper cluster, which includes the Cheesegrater and the recently completed 22 Bishopsgate, “aggressively draws the cluster into the area identified as most vulnerable to maintaining the tower’s significance,” he said added.
However, city attorney Neil Cameron QC said planners placed “great weight” on the tower’s heritage impact in obtaining its approval in April 2019, adding that the company’s opinion “should be respected”.
He went on that the “very high quality” program would provide “significant educational and community benefits and improvements in the public domain” and “would invite a wider range of people to enjoy the wonder of the cluster and have a look at everything what London has to offer ”.
Bury Street Properties attorney Russell Harris QC also defended the tower, saying it was “elegant and has a gentle grace of form that is tall, exciting, and exuberant in use, but also its essential architectural calm, authority and Authenticity preserved “.
Last month, the project’s lead architect, Robert Harrison, rejected the criticism Harris cited that the tower’s design resembled a “prison camp watchtower.”
The final decision will be made by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick – although no time frame has been disclosed.