London’s already busy skyline could welcome a new 170-metre skyscraper inspired by Gotham City, the fictional city home of comic book superhero Batman.
Proposed for the heart of London’s insurance industry (Square Mile) in Ledenhall Street, the design was unveiled this week by developer Henderson Global Investors and awaits awaiting approval from the City of London.
Initially, the site was set to be the headquarters of an investment bank but Henderson bought the development area out of administration in 2011 and now has the opportunity to build the skyscraper project.
Architectural firm Make is behind the “cascading” building design for mixed-use skyscraper, which would consist of 890,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of shops.
Officially titled the Ledenhall Triangle, it has already gained the affectionate name "The Toast Rack" and has been likened to a giant set of books on a bookshelf. It echoes the neo-gothic architecture used to depict the fictional Gotham City in Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman.
The building is also reminiscent of the neo-gothic architectural movement reflected in 20th century buildings such as the Rockefeller Centre in New York and the Fisher Building in Chicago.
“We are proposing a scheme which will fit in with the rich urban character of streets and spaces of EC3 (Eastern Central) with tall towers and lower rise blocks, primary thoroughfares, hidden alleyways and discreet public spaces,” explained Geoff Harris, director of property developmers Henderson Global Investors.
“The building is also highly sustainable given the environmental measures that have been adopted and great local transport links.”
Paul Scott of Make noted the building would have strong green credentials.
"An exemplar of environmentally progressive design, the building will reduce carbon emissions by over 40 per cent compared to current regulations, and lead the next generation of city-center office buildings," he said.
Upon completion, Ledenhall Triangle would be one of Britain’s biggest office blocks with heights ranging from seven to 34 storeys. While slender, the "drop-down" design of the buildings will also respect and protect views of the nearby St Paul’s Cathedral.
"The shifting vertical planes of our scheme rise to complement the cluster of tall buildings on the skyline and sensitively terrace down in southern views from and across the River Thames," said Scott.
The structure is estimated to cost £391 million to build with construction planned to begin in 2015 provided 30 per cent of the building is let.
Harris has also described the proposed project as a “vote of confidence in the City of London and a major boost to investment, growth and employment in the economy.”
If built, Ledenhall Triangle is expected to generate 400 construction jobs while housing up to 7,000 employees working in the financial district.
Approximately 300,000 people work in financial and professional services in Square Mile and the area has been a popular choice for developers looking to develop skyscrapers over the last decade.
Other renowned buildings in the area include The Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe), the Walkie Talkie (20 Fenchurch Street) skyscraper and the wedge-shaped Cheese Grater building at 122 Ledenhall Street.
According to the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, London is a hot spot for tall buildings – those reaching 100 metres or higher – with 20 skyscrapers currently proposed, seven under construction and four topped out.
Upon completion, the proposed Ledenhall Triangle would be the 13th tallest building in London, just 10 metres short of its neighbour, The Gherkin, with completion targeted for 2019.