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1980s London: A Laboratory for Contemporary High-Rise Architecture. The Case of the Richard Rogers Partnership

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In the 1980s, high-rise construction in Western Europe seems to have paused. In London, though, the pause was relative: Tower 42 was completed in 1980 and became the highest building in the city (183 m) until it was outranked in 1991 by One Canada Square, in Canary Wharf (236 m). However, only one relatively tall building (95 m) was begun and completed during the decade, one that is significant in the history of architecture: the Lloyd's Building, by Richard Rogers and Partners, built in 1986. The debates about its construction raised questions that still hold today. In that regard, the Lloyd's Building bore signs of what London's skyline would become, notably under the influence of Richard Rogers who designed a great number of buildings in central London and has also been involved in advising in the area of urban planning. It was the first building where architectural quality was used in such a clear way as a means to justify its construction and convince every group involved in the decision process. Moreover, its main architectural features can also be analysed as answers to the capitalist market: in doing so, I will try to show which architectural qualities are relevant for the market, and how such a selection affects the contemporary high-rise architecture in London. In this article, I will thus develop the idea that clues to London's recent evolution can be found in contemporary architectural theory and history.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2018

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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