Singapore developer behind London’s latest skyscraper

Singapore-based developer Aroland Holdings this week announced plans for a new London skyscraper, which they will be submitting to the City for approval early next year, reports the Guardian.

Called ‘1 Undershaft’, the tower will be an aesthetically simple, 73-storey skyscraper nestled between the landmarks of the Gherkin and Cheesegrater with the crumbling churches of 12th Century St Helen’s Bishopsgate and 16th Century St Andrew Undershaft below.

At 309.6 metres tall, it clocks in just below London’s tallest building, The Shard, which stands at 312.7 metres. However, 1 Undershaft will still be the tallest building in the City, the commercial square mile centre of London.

Seemingly a normal rectangular tower, the building’s corners are actually very minutely tapered so as to converge at an imaginary focal point far into the air. With horizontal white louvres running up the sides of the building and criss-cross red gartering down each facade, the design is muted in comparison to the feats of architectural engineering nearby.

Original plans for the tower were to top it with a point but city planners made it clear they were looking for a simpler shape on the skyline before it would be accepted.

“I wanted to do something calm,” said architect Eric Parry. “It is the last piece in the jigsaw so I wanted to do something that isn’t flamboyant.”

At 90,000 sqm, 1 Undershaft will be able to hold 10,000 people, according to BBC News. The building will be dominated by office space save for a restaurant and a viewing platform in the upper echelons.

A 10-metre–high open space at ground level is also planned. Parry envisioned this space as a sunken plaza – like the one at New York’s Rockefeller Center – and could even have a market or ice rink in the middle of it.

The Singaporean developer hired Parry after a nationwide competition. The major shareholders of Aroland are Singaporean billionaire Kuok Khoon Hong and Chinese-Indonesian tycoon Martua Sitorus, the founders of Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil producer. They acquired the City site back in 2011 for GBP288 million (USD432.50 million).

Khon Hong and Sitorus are also currently working on Indonesia’s tallest building together with other skyscrapers in Singapore and China.