The Shadow of a Tower

Number 22 Bishopsgate is a building so vast it casts a shadow onto the clouds

The shadow of the tower on the cloud | Photo: Lesley Scoble

This unusual photo shows 22 Bishopsgate in the distance with it’s shadow actually falling onto the cloud. The edifice stands about a mile beyond the Barbican tower (seen in foreground of photo). I have watched the construction of this Bishopsgate monolith grow; rising floor by floor in rapid stages, until it has ascended right up into the clouds.

Shadow of a Tower

22 Bishopsgate is a building so high
It casts its own shadow on clouds in the sky

It stands very big 
(so big!)
And tall (ever so tall!)
And proud
Grey cloud
covers it all
in a mist
in a pall
in a shroud.

A building so vast—
it casts
its long shadow 
on crevices below 
and on crowds,
as well as sky high up in the clouds 
 
– Lesley Scoble 

22 Bishopsgate

22 Bishopsgate reception sign | Photo: Lesley Scoble

Twenty two, Bishopsgate (known as 22 for short) is due for completion this year, and will be the biggest building in the heart of the City of London’s financial district.

Under construction at sunrise | Photo: Lesley Scoble
Concept photo at construction site | Photo: Lesley Scoble

Impact of the pandemic

With the unprecedented onset of the of Covid-19 pandemic emptying the City and rendering office spaces redundant while we all work from home, I’m wondering if Twenty Two will become London’s tallest most irrelevant building? Will it ever fulfil its *architectural dreams? Will there ever be people returning back into our great city to actually inhabit it? Will formal large scale offices still be relevant the other side of this pandemic?
*22 Bishopsgate, designed by PLP Architecture for AXA Real Estate and Lipton Rogers Developments

Will 22 Bishopsgate be the tallest empty building in the City?

Vertical Village

Residing within the skyscraper will be a predominantly IT and banking population of 12,000 souls. And you can expect to pay an average £1.8 million for a two bedroom flat. It will be a virtual vertical village, self contained  with amenities, medical centre, markets, shops, pop up workplaces, gym, fitness classes, Pilates, Yoga, juice bars, showers, clubs, 1600 capacity bike parks and apps to get your coffee delivered to your (at Covid risk) desk on whatever floor you’re at. The inhabitants can go to the library, or visit the (Covid risk) cinema and entertainment night-time venues, and eat at the the highest restaurant and bar in town, or go for a jog in the gym or climb a glass climbing wall, and even a high altitude training facility (everyone in the building might need to do this as a requirement! Lol)

Apart from the wow factor of its size (Gosh! It’s big, its square footage is bigger than the square mile of the City that it stands upon!) it seems a dull building (in my opinion) adding yet another monotonous silver grey-green glassy structure to the expeditious changing skyline of London. Beside the fact that it gives me a crick in the neck when I look up at it looming over me as I walk by (but then, as I’m small, most things give me a crick in the neck) I confess, conversely, to finding the building somewhat fascinating! Nevertheless, it is basically a huge but ‘ordinary’ design (only my opinion, but could they not have made it a little bit more inspiring?).

Featureless glass cliff | Photo: Lesley Scoble

It appears a featureless 62 storey monolith of 202,000 sqm—and larger than the Square Mile that it stands within. At 278 metres/ (912 ft give or take an nth) it will be nearly three times the height of Big Ben which is a mere 95 metres tall (315 ft give or take an nth). The next photograph shows the Westminster Tower reflected in its glass façade. A good comparison of size as the Westminster Tower used to be the tallest building in London!

The Westminster Tower reflected in the glass façade | Photo: Lesley Scoble

The Starship Enterprise

This very big building reminds me a bit of the great space ship The Starship Enterprise in Star Trek which is fully kitted out and self sufficient. Meaning, it could take off on a mission and “go where no man has gone before”—now, there’s a thought! (Okay, I’m none too keen on its design). Nonetheless, I feel a heavy sadness should it remain empty and become a huge white elephant standing in a changed desolate city. It deserves to fulfil its expansive, vibrant, bustling, economic promise and city hopes.
But, I am not sure how it will fit into a new post Covid era…

The sheer exterior of 22 | Photo: Lesley Scoble

Sleeping Giant

Historically, the City sleeps at weekends. The weekend is when it becomes a quiet place devoid of populace, office workers, bankers etc. They have all left it at the end of the working week; migrating into the outskirts or country or wherever. The weekly rat race commuter exodus from the hectic Square Mile leaves it a quiet, peaceful, uncrowded place. And large city office buildings are allowed to slumber.

22 Bishopsgate will provide permanent homes: with such a high population expected to move in to live as permanent residents, it could mean an end to the City’s weekend sleep. Imagine when the new city folk all take to the streets for a Sunday constitutional walk after the Sunday roast? It could see a rise in an after lunch population walking around the City and preclude the end to the weekend emptiness of the streets. Unless of course, the interior of the building is so exceptional at providing all the mod cons and everything you might ever need—residents may never need, or want to venture outside!

The Pinnacle

The Pinnacle was a building aiming to reach new architectural heights, but was abandoned in early construction because of financial disputes. It left the unfinished beginnings of the skyscraper dormant. And was thus nicknamed the Stump. It’s a shame, as the scrapped building (in my opinion) had a more interesting ‘helter-skelter’ wrap-around design which might have been better than the gigantic glass boring box that is now number 22.

Green spaces

There doesn’t seem to be any allowance for green walls or gardens in the build. I hope and trust I’m wrong in this. I understand there will be a terrace and a free public access viewing platform…

New buildings ought to incorporate gardens, green roofs, living walls and such like. To give back something to nature that it has taken away.

However, they do have trees planted outside the entrance! Very beautiful tall trees they are too! And we certainly need more trees in the City. Just one small problem though…

Tall Trees with nowhere to grow

I am wondering, just a little, why they have planted tall trees directly under the entrance canopies? The trees have nowhere to grow…

Trees planted too close to the entrance canopies | Photo: Lesley Scoble

My small suggestion is that they might perhaps replant the trees a little bit more towards the kerb? They will then be free to grow upward and create a beautiful green canopy of their own? Only a thought…

Might be a good idea to move the trees nearer the kerb? | Photo: Lesley Scoble

Will Covid see an end to buildings such as this?

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic the City has remained empty of its daily influx of office workers, and at time of writing remains empty…

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic the City has been empty of its office workers and at time of writing remains quiet…

How can corporate companies risk the health of their office workers to return in their pre-Covid numbers to such risky environments? Especially, since many have adapted successfully to working from home?

But who knows? With the hope of the current vaccine rollout. City life might all go back to ‘normal’ and 22 Bishopsgate will become what it was designed to be. The flourishing financial village contained in one massive building.

Stay safe at home, or wherever you are 😊

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