To Cluster or Stand Apart?

Eric Parry
Founder, Principal
Eric Parry Architects, London

This presentation analyzed the urban design strategies adopted by different municipal authorities with regard to tall buildings to define both the public realm at street level and the city image as a skyline. Case studies focused on the European context: Paris, Frankfurt, and London. London houses both the contrasting imported grid of Canary Wharf and the Eastern Cluster of the City of London, the latter rising from the medieval city street grain. In the space of two generations, the separated picturesque landscape of singular towers has given way to the topographical idea of groupings of towers that themselves form a landscape of distant "hills" and "valleys." The Parisian response has been, like London’s Canary Wharf, separation to keep at a distance from the protected historic grain the choreography of towers on the stage of La Défense. This illustrates how the French tradition of axiality and formal landscape arrangement underpins the urban thinking. Frankfurt rises from an older street pattern, but a third way has emerged in the disposition of towers emanating from a clear urban master plan laid down and adopted in the late 1980s. The comparison and contrasting cultural traditions of landscape design pervade contemporary urban thinking. This presentation addressed the shifting sands of planning authority that has given rise to the current urban setting.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation

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