Foster + Partners has unveiled ‘The Tulip’, a 305.3-meter tall tower topped with a viewpoint and rotating gondolas which is planned to be built alongside the Gherkin in London. Deriving its name from its nature-inspired form, The Tulip would enhance The Gherkin, one of London’s most cherished and recognisable buildings and offer a new state-of-the-art cultural and educational resource for Londoners and tourists.
Since the turn of the Millennium, London’s skyline has matured with new high-rise buildings that reflect its growth as a global financial hub. In addition, the City of London Corporation has been driving proposals to enliven the Square Mile by creating a Culture Mile with world-class tourist facilities. The proposal for a unique 305.3-meter-high visitor attraction reflects a desire to build public engagement within the City and enhance The Gherkin’s public offering. The Tulip promises wide cultural and economic benefits with a diverse programme of events.
A key feature will be the education facility within the top of The Tulip, offering 20,000 free places per year for London’s state school children. This educational resource, provided by the J. Safra Group, will deliver national curriculum topics using innovative tools to bring to life the city’s history and dynamism, inspiring the creative young minds of tomorrow.
The Tulip seeks to provide an unparalleled vantage point to view London from a height of around 300 meters. The viewing galleries will offer visitors an engaging experience with sky bridges, internal glass slides and gondola pod rides on the building’s façade that will appeal to people across all age groups. Visitors will benefit from interactive materials and briefings from expert guides about the history of London. Complementing the experience will be a sky bar and restaurants with 360-degree views of the city.
Completed in 2004, 30 St Mary Axe, now popularly known as The Gherkin, made a positive contribution at ground level by breathing life into its surroundings. The Tulip seeks to extend the site’s public realm further. A new pocket park is proposed alongside a two-storey pavilion offering a publicly accessible rooftop garden. Together with green walls this increases the site’s green surface area by 8.5 times, supporting the Mayor’s goal for London to be the world’s first National Park City. Public access will also be considerably improved with the removal of over half of the existing perimeter walls around The Gherkin.
The Tulip’s soft bud-like form and minimal building footprint reflects its reduced resource use, with high performance glass and optimised building systems reducing its energy consumption. Heating and cooling is provided by zero combustion technology while integrated photovoltaic cells generate energy on site.
The Tulip and The Gherkin will bring life to the City of London at all times of the day and evening, seven days a week. This creates opportunities for a diverse range of businesses to operate out-of-office hours, bringing real economic and social benefits for the local community and for London. The Tulip will offer an outstanding venue to host cultural, educational, business and technology events.
“Continuing the pioneering design of 30 St Mary Axe, the Tulip is in the spirit of London as a progressive, forward-thinking city,” says Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners. “It offers significant benefits to Londoners and visitors as a cultural and social landmark with unmatched educational resources for future generations.”
“We are delighted to benefit from the exceptional talent of Foster + Partners in bringing to London this world-class visitor attraction,” said Jacob J. Safra. “The Tulip’s elegance and soft strength complements the iconic Gherkin. We are confident in London’s role as a global city and are proud to offer its schoolchildren a state-of-the-art classroom in the sky to appreciate London’s history and dynamism.”
Subject to the planning approval process, construction on The Tulip could begin in 2020 with completion projected for 2025.