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End of London skyscraper boom

The architect of the Gherkin has declared that the 'age of bling' is over in the City, pronouncing the end of the London skyscraper boom.

world Updated: Apr 21, 2011 23:16 IST

The architect of the Gherkin has declared that the 'age of bling' is over in the City, pronouncing the end of the London skyscraper boom.

The recently finished Heron Tower, along with the Shard, the Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie, which are still under construction and are due to open by 2014, will be the last generation of iconic skyscrapers, he said, as property developers turn to more modest, less expensive schemes. The towers were all conceived before the financial crisis and some of them were nearly scrapped during the property downturn.

"The age of bling is over," Ken Shuttleworth, the architect leading the team at Norman Foster's firm which designed the Gherkin, said.

He said the 40-storey tower, which opened in 2004, would never get off the ground today. "Money now drives everything, so if you can build something for half the price, you will." Tenants are demanding "austere and efficient" buildings that are more likely to be "ground-scrapers" than high-rises, he said.

Tall buildings cost more to build than low-rise structures with the same amount of space. At the same time, many tenants are reluctant to pay a premium for being in a tower as belt-tightening continues.