One Blackfriars architect adds proposed PLP tower scheme over the road is ‘failure of planning’

Ian Simpson has become the latest high-profile architect to attack the quality of towers going up in London.

The Manchester-based architect (pictured) behind the 50-storey One Blackfriars residential scheme being built at the southern end of Blackfriars bridge in Southwark criticised some high-rise which has begun to appear on London’s skyline over the past few years.

He said: “In London, unlike New York, the relative lack of tall buildings means that each one is even more visible. And unfortunately in London many of these residential towers fall short and are of a very poor quality.”

According to the latest report by New London Architecture, a huge number of tall buildings are set to be built in the coming years with the number of buildings over 20 storeys planned for the capital rising to 455 last year from the previous year’s 436. The report added that in the past 12 months one tower a week was coming out of the ground.

Both Norman Foster and Eric Parry have criticised the quality of some of the towers that have been built with Parry telling BD earlier this week that towers’ “design and build quality is quite good in the centre but becomes terrible as you move further out”.

Simpson also criticised the haphazard planning strategy governing towers in the capital and said his tower at One Blackfriars had been compromised by a PLP-designed scheme over the road.

This will see the mid-rise Ludgate House, which was opened in 1989 by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, demolished ahead of a 49-storey tower by PLP going up in its place. Plans for nearby Sampson House, which opened a decade earlier and was designed by Fitzroy Robinson, include a pair of 31- and 27-storey towers.

Simpson said: “We designed [One Blackfriars] as a singular, dynamic, standalone form as the bridgehead for Blackfriars Bridge rather than the gateway. But now it’s set to be joined by a series of new PLP-designed towers which are completely inappropriate for their site and context. It’s very much a failure of planning.”

And just a stone’s throw away from Simpson’s tower, the stretch of road in Southwark is set for further development with plans drawn up by Wilkinson Eyre featuring a 52-storey, 178.5m residential tower on Blackfriars Road as well as a 33-floor office block by Brisac Gonzales Architects.


PLP Southbank

PLP’s scheme (left) will include nearly 500 homes. Work on Ian Simpson’s tower (right) is now on site