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5 of the Most Unusual Buildings on London’s Skyline

Blog Architecture
08.06.17

London has well and truly cemented itself as a global architectural capital. With impressive and unusual structures filling the city’s skyline, the capital is ever-growing to accommodate more and more modern skyscrapers amidst classic buildings

Cloud-piercing glass towers are slotted in between stone cathedrals and churches to offer a stunning mix of architecture. When the world-renowned 30 St Mary Axe (commonly called ‘The Gherkin’) first opened back in 2003, it was a modern architectural genius, starting a hot trend for architects to push ambitious projects into construction across the city. Here are five of the most interesting buildings in London to add to your radar.

Baltimore Tower

An iconic skyscraper set against the water of Millwall Inner Dock on the Isle of Dogs, Baltimore Tower is a building that has more to it than first meets the eye. The design features variable solar shading and cover for each floor, which helps enhance environmental performance, giving it a unique ring shape to the levels. If you journey up the building, a number of the floors rotate in alignment with the balcony ring.

20 Fenchurch Street

Following the trend for nicknaming buildings, 20 Fenchurch Street has been referred to as “the building with more up top”, coining the name ‘The Walkie-Talkie’. Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, the building has a somewhat domineering presence on London’s skyline, sitting among the other towering skyscrapers right in the centre of the city.

Its top-heavy design means that the upper office levels offer premium spaces for some of the world’s highest-earning insurance and financial companies. However, the building does have a  botanical Sky Garden, which is open to the public and offers 360-degree views over the city, spanning three floors.

City Hall

Home to the offices for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly, City Hall has held a crucial place on London’s skyline since it was first opened in 2002. Designed by the world-renowned architect Norman Foster of the Foster and Partners architectural firm, the egg-shaped building sits right on the South Bank, looking over to Tower Bridge.

Constructed to meet the highest demands of energy-efficiency, the bulbous dome allows the building to reduce its outer surface area, thus requiring less energy to heat. Two large pipes are also installed within the building, linking it to the water table of the River Thames, allowing cold water to circulate during the summer months as a cooling device.

As well as its outer features, the building is just as impressive inside with a helical staircase winding more than 500 metres up to the top floor. Visitors can head to the top to enjoy the exhibition space and viewing area.

M by Montcalm Tech City

Something of an optical illusion, the M by Montcalm building juts out on the busy City Road in the heart of Tech City. Designed by RIBA award-winning architects Squire and Partners to look like an elongated diamond, the 18-storey hotel oozes luxury both outside and inside. Boasting more than 260 rooms, conference spaces, a spa and gym, a VIP club room, restaurants, and bars, the hotel is an opulent additional to the other high-rises in the Shoreditch area.

To match its location, the building was designed with technology in mind – there are smart devices installed throughout so that hotel guests can “create their own environment”, from controlling the lights and temperature to the sound and aroma of the room.

The Olympic Velopark

Technically not a skyscraper, The Olympic Velodrome more than earns its place among other London architectural structures due to its fascinating view from above. With large amounts of press coverage during the London 2012 Olympics, spectators were quick to note the unusual shape of the steelwork roof. Its curved nature has since earned the cycling stadium the affectionate nickname ‘Pringle’, after the classic crisp brand.

There are actually some very important reasons for the curvaceous surface of the building though: the architects originally in charge of the construction (Hopkins Architects and Grant Associates) designed the roof with a number of eco-friendly plans in mind. The roof is used to collect rainwater and it deflects sunlight, helping to simultaneously reduce hot air and boost ventilation inside the stadium.

The Most Interesting Buildings in London

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