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The Gherkin: The Latest Architecture and News

Foster + Partners Plan a Tulip-Shaped Tower for Central London

Foster + Partners have unveiled details of their latest proposed tower for the City of London. “The Tulip” seeks to become a “new public cultural attraction” sitting adjacent to The Gherkin: one of Foster’s and London’s most iconic structures.

The 305-meter-high, bud-like scheme, named after its nature-inspired form, will offer an education facility operated by building owners J. Safra Group. The program, with 20,000 free places per year for London’s state school children, will feature “unparalleled vantage point to view London from a height of around 300 meters.”

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The Gherkin: How London’s Famous Tower Leveraged Risk and Became an Icon (Part 2)

This four part series (originally published on Aggregate’s website) examines The Gherkin, the London office tower designed by Foster + Partners, showing how the urban icon engaged and leveraged perceptions of risk. In part one, author Jonathan Massey introduced the concept of "risk design” to describe how the Gherkin’s design managed the risks posed by climate change, terrorism, and globalization. In part two, below, Massey examines the Gherkin’s enclosure and ventilation systems in detail to explain how the building negotiated climate risk.

In a poster promoting London’s bid to host the Olympic Games, the Gherkin supported gymnast Ben Brown as he vaulted over the building’s conical peak. The image associated British athleticism and architecture as complementary manifestations of daring and skill, enlisting the Gherkin as evidence that London possessed the expertise and panache to handle the risk involved in hosting an Olympic Games.

But a poster created three years later offered a very different image. Created by activists from the Camp for Climate Action to publicize a mass protest at Heathrow Airport against the environmental degradation caused by air travel, this poster shows the Gherkin affording only precarious footing to a giant polar bear that swats at passing jets as its claws grasp at the slight relief offered by spiraling mullions and fins.