Undershaft Tower – The City of London’s new tallest skyscraper

It’s a dark, dark secret of mine, but I am a huge skyscraper nerd. I keep track of the newest towers going up all over the world and when a new appears in my home city I get rather exited. You can imagine my jubilation when the designs for the newest and tallest skyscraper in the city of London were unveiled this week.

The Undershaft Tower

undershaft skyscraper london

The Undershaft skyscraper will become the second tallest building in the country, just short of beating The Shard. It will tower 295 metres above ground and will feature a FREE viewing gallery on one of its highest floors. Located right next to The Gherkin and Cheesegrater towers, Undershaft will add to the growing cluster of office buildings in this part of the city.

The Design

undershaft tower at night

The architect of the project is Erric Parry, who said that he ‘wanted to do something calm’ no doubt to contrast his design with the more outlandish towers that have been built over the past 10 years. “It is the last piece in the jigsaw, so I wanted to do something that isn’t flamboyant” he said as he explained his design. Parry originally intended for the tower to be even taller, but restrictions set by the aviation authority meant that he had to settle for just under 300 metres high.

undershaft london base

The base of the Undershaft tower will rise 10 metres above ground, creating a new open space underneath the building.

The Public Viewing gallery


As I mentioned before the Undershaft Tower will have a viewing gallery open to the public. This will become the highest viewing point in the UK, beating out The Shard’s offering. Even though The Shard will still be a couple of metres taller its viewing platform is only on the 68th floor, whilst the Undershaft’s will be right at the top on floor 72. The viewing platform will feature a looping ramp that takes visitors on a 360 degree journey around the very top of the tower. The architect describes the experience as a ‘inverted diorama’ which will be created with the Museum of London. The greatest thing about this new public space is that it will be completely FREE! Whether the space will have a booking system is not yet clear, with further details to be released in the future.

The Verdict

undershaft cladding

I’m not overwhelmed with the design of the Undershaft skyscraper. I’m used to the idea of the City of London being home to iconic designs that you wouldn’t find anywhere else and the Undershaft just seems like a box you could find in any North American City. Never the less I don’t think it’s ugly and the inclusion of a free viewing gallery at the very top of the tower is a great plus for Londoners.

P.S If like me you find yourself becoming a skyscraper nerd, head over to http://www.skyscrapercity.com/ and indulge yourself in some tall building porn.


London Writer and Blogger. Featured in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times.

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