The Tulip: Will it ever be built?


It’s beginning to seem nothing is too bizarre for the City, but some say Fosters’ Tulip has gone too far. Ike Ijeh asks if it could still win planning

The skyline of the City of London is no stranger to controversy. Ever since the Gherkin unexpectedly gained planning permission in August 2000, London’s oldest district has become a battleground for some of Europe’s tallest structures. From the public inquiry that dogged the former Heron Tower to the firestorm of controversy the Walkie Talkie left in its wake, building tall here is more often a question of perseverance than it is of planning. 

And now a new high-rise proposal seems about to become the City’s next major planning saga. The Brazilian billionaire Jacob Safra is set to become indelibly linked to his controversial proposals to build a 305m-tall concrete viewing gallery in the City of London shaped, improbably, like a tulip. 

Located right beside the Gherkin, which Safra also owns and Foster & Partners also famously designed, when its planning application was submitted last autumn the Tulip immediately ignited the now-familiar touchpaper of ire and incredulity that City high-rise schemes frequently unleash. 

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