The only way is up – London’s ever-changing skyline

Skyscraper photo looking to clouds - TwoBlue Communications

Perspective – London’s skyline 2013 to now

When I first started in property PR, my journey to work involved catching the 07:54 from Waterloo to Epsom. As my train departed, I thought nothing of the Sainsbury’s supermarket on my left or the Christie’s & Royal Mail warehouses on my right; they were just part of the scenery that made up the final leg of my commute.

Fast forward five years, and none of those things are still standing. Vauxhall is a metropolis of high-rises that stretch all the way down to Battersea Power Station. I knew of the redevelopment of the industrial stalwart which dominated the SW London horizon, but I had no idea just what that would eventually entail – it wasn’t until a client told us of their newly-acquired land alongside the train line that I really began to understand the magnitude of the Nine Elms regeneration plan, and what it meant for the skyline south of the river.

This is just one example of the increasingly vertical direction in which we seem to be building. My dad used to work in Aldgate and, walking around there now, I hardly recognise it as the place he took my brother and me to almost 20 years ago. In fact, it barely even resembles the same place my boyfriend-at-the-time was living in when we first got together in 2014.

Conversation at Estates Gazette Question Time

Last week, Paul and I attended the Estates Gazette Question Time London panel, and the question of London’s future as the UK’s business Mecca was posed. As more technology such as AI enters the workplace, designed to make our lives easier, it remains to be seen how redundant humans will become in the future. Flexible working means fewer people are actually spending a full day in the office, and co-working is reducing the need for large companies to instruct whole buildings in one central location, allowing for cheaper and more dynamic workforces that can be spread out across the country in more affordable locations such as Manchester and Birmingham.

Photo of a panel discussion at Estates Gazette Question Time June 2018
Estates Gazette Question Time

Interestingly, one architect in the audience initiated a discussion with the panel about exactly this topic, and the future use of our office spaces as we have less need for them. While I agree that we need to consider mixed-usage in our buildings, especially in places such as Bishopsgate where this event was held, and Canary Wharf, which are hives of activity during the working day but empty come late night and weekends, and therefore wasted opportunities, do people actually want to live and work in the same place? Unanimously the audience voted no.

Cranes continue to litter the view across London, and will do for decades yet, that much is clear. But what they will be building, how and for what purpose, is something I’m looking forward to discovering over the coming years, both from a professional standpoint and a personal one.

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