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Opinions of The Clusters of London

2882 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  MatthewGen
At the moment, we have two clusters, The City and Canary Wharf. Southwark, Aldgate and Vauxhall have contentions, with Vauxhall nearing completion of The Tower.

I am looking for opinions. So what do you think of the current clusters?


Canary Wharf
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For me the main issue with both of them is their almost exclusive use as offices, and mainly for one sector: financial services. London needs more diversity in its high rises, which hopefully the new clusters in Southwark and Vauxhall (and later Paddington and Euston) will provide.

London really lacks urban residential high rises (other than social housing ones that are more suburban than urban, which I see as one of the main reasons they aren't popular). The City actually has one set of great residential high rises in the Barbican, which shows that twentieth century brutalism can produce great desirable architecture. (A look at how unaffordable the flats for sale in the complex gives an idea of how popular it is)

I'm currently near the centre of Philadelphia in Society Hill where the general height of building is similar to much of central London, yet they still have the occasional skyscraper that doesn't damage the street-level historical feel. London could really learn from this - you don't need to pack in Skyscrapers like Manhattan or London's two current clusters, just have the odd one every few blocks and you create high density without the problems of depriving light to the street level. I'd love to see a cluster around the Fitzrovia / Marylebone area as to me this seems like the ideal area to live in London - (urban, every part of the city walkable, great cafes and shops, but not in the central business district), but there must be large gaps between the high rises to keep the character of the streets below.

I do quite like the idea of the several new clusters though in preserving London's feel of being several villages/cities rather than just one. I also like the move of the centre of things to even out the previous North of the Thames centre.

Not sure if Aldgate could be argued to be separate from the city though, walk between it and the city and it feels like the same cluster.
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By Fitzrovia do you mean St. giles were Centre Point is or the area around the BT tower?
I'm currently near the centre of Philadelphia in Society Hill where the general height of building is similar to much of central London, yet they still have the occasional skyscraper that doesn't damage the street-level historical feel. London could really learn from this...
I agree, I think the focus on clusters is a little redundant - especially considering the success of the Shard (Guys is considerably smaller, in relative terms it stands alone).
I'm more thinking of the BT tower area by Fitzrovia (I find rightmove to be good at making Google Maps boundaries of areas), but obviously that touches St Giles. Centre Point is a great example of what there should be more of in central London. Keep those sort of high buildings a reasonable distance apart and from street level you hardly notice them unless you look up specially to see them, when they add something magnificent to the skyline and also allow far more people to live centrally which reduces the burdon on the London Underground and saves the city money, as well as reducing the extortionate cost of living centrally. Obviously some areas aren't suited to those high rises, I'd generally avoid them in Bloomsbury and Mayfair for instance

The area I think is well suited to having spaced out high rise residential (and some offices) would be bounded by Tottenham Court Road to the East, Oxford Street to the South, Regents Park to the North (although to the East of Regent's Park it could go further North), and perhaps as far as Paddington in the West. Maybe it could extend into Soho, but should probably avoid Covent Garden and moving Eastward towards the city which should be a distinct area (largely because it clearly is distinct from the West End today and arguably should maintain that character for historical/cultural reasons).

London is my favourite city in the world, but it has problems: it's too expensive from lack of residential building, and there's too many family homes being converted to flats in the suburbs which suits no one: young professionals want to live centrally but there isn't the capacity so they live in the near suburbs, families that work well in these suburbs find that the conversions mean the cost of living their goes up and they are forced further out bringing transportation issues and increasing reliance on unsustainable forms of transport like cars.

Also many areas of the centre feel a bit dead compared with other cities and don't have the vibrant street life of cafes and restaurants. Partially this is to do with the sheer size of the central city, but partly it's because there's not enough people living centrally to support cafes and restaurants too far away from the main roads. For me the ideal of a centre city should have most ground floor level in the city centre should be public spaces of some kind (facilities, eating places, leisure places, shopping places, community centres) and the activities spilling out onto streets whose purpose isn't about moving people around so much as being places to meet, to explore, etc. To me the best way of getting this is increasing density in the centre in a way which doesn't make the streets below dark like happens in the very centre of American cities, the best way of doing that seems to be to have zoning requirements of minimum distances between high buildings rather than opposing them full stop as planners seem to do now.

Sorry a bit of a rant maybe, I just became passionate about the topic recently as I'm moving to London in the next month and realising that it's unlikely I can live within walking distance of the centre.
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City looks like an unplanned jumble of buildings.

Canary Wharf is at least a bit more planned and ordered, for the time being at least.
I'm a much bigger fan of canary wharf. Love the boxy north American style. The city is too spread out and random, no real density.

I also agree with above opinions that London needs more high rise residential towers to the standard of the strata & the tower. That being said, we don't really have any clusters apart from the city and Canary wharf witch aren't residential areas, so with the new clusters slowly sprouting hopefully developers will propose a lot more residential high rises.
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