We’re not sure why this is a top Google autocomplete result (have you looked at the skyline recently?) but it’s true that London has far fewer tall buildings than other major cities – and that the skyscrapers that we do have are relatively recent arrivals.
Partly ‘it’s a European thing’, says Peter Murray from New London Architecture: most dense, high-rise cities are found in Asia and the Americas. But our lowly nature is also the result of longstanding grumbles about tall buildings, and rules like the 1938 policy that protects sightlines of St Paul’s Cathedral. A number of scandals involving substandard high-rise housing also gave towers a bad name.
But now, due to population growth and foreign investment, the skyline has started to change. There are 430-odd new towers planned, says Murray: ‘In 20 years, the South Bank from Nine Elms to Blackfriars will look very different.’ The only way is up…