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Environment / Climate change

City of London shows off its skyscrapers at the Cannes MIPIM conference

Editor’s note, 18 March: We have, rather belatedly, noticed that this is isn’t actually a photograph of the this year’s MIPIM model, but of the one on show in March 2010. There is a long and complicated explanation for how we came to make this technical error, but it basically amounts to: we’re idiots.

Rather than try to disguise this screw up, we’ve decided to leave it here as a warning for others, but to include a photograph of this year’s model below. The funny thing is that, given half a decade has passed, it really doesn’t look that different.

This scale model of central London is currently on show at MIPIM, a property trade show which sees the world’s most infuriatingly rich people gather on France’s Mediterranean coast in Cannes every spring. There, they proceed to do deals, drink champers and otherwise rub themselves with money in the way that megarich people do.

Not that we’re jealous , you understand.

Anyway, look at this photo carefully, and you can see a whole host of iconic and/or horrific additions to the city’s skyline. To the left is the Shard which, at 310m, is currently the tallest building in Western Europe. In the far left corner of the model you can just make out One Blackfriars (52 storeys, 170m) sitting at the southern end of Blackfriars Bridge.

The biggest new development zone, though, is in the middle of the image. That’s the cluster of new skyscrapers at the southern end of Bishopsgate – the “Gherkin”, the “Cheesegrater”, the “Walkie Talkie” etc. – which have been springing up over the last decade or so.

At the centre of that cluster is the Pinnacle – that’s the gold one with the curly tip. It would have been 288m tall, but not only does it not exist, it’s actually never going to, at least with that design: construction had only got as far as a few storeys of concrete core before the credit crunch hit and the project ground to a halt. New designs are understood to be in the works now, but when the building does happen it’s very unlikely to look anything like that.

This model actually understates the extent to which London is building upwards. Best we can tell, the area it shows is this…

…which means that the Corporation of London has decided, not unnaturally, to showcase the new developments in and around the City of London, the part of town that it actually runs. That means that vast redevelopment zones – in Docklands, Stratford, King’s Cross, Old Oak Common and so forth – don’t make it onto the map.

For those Londoners who enjoy scale models, but don’t fancy paying a fortune to visit Cannes to see them, we recommend a trip to the New London Architecture centre on Store Street in Bloomsbury. There you can see a similar model covering an even bigger swathe of the city. It’s dead good.

Editor’s note: Here’s an actual photograph of this year’s actual model. Sorry.


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