Skyscrapers and the redrawing of the London’s skyline: a case of territorialisation through landscape control

Abstract : In a race for the sky marked by the proliferation of skyscrapers in cities of emerging market economies, the historic European metropolises are faced with intense debates on the relevance and significance of the return of towers. Their skylines are changing, revealing a new local geopolitical order in which developers have gained backing from local authorities. With more than 200 towers planned, London exemplifies this new high-rise governance that manages to overcome often strict legislations. The new London skyline has now become the materialisation of convergent private and public interests that, in turn, translate into a set of territorial markers instrumented by what Sklair identifies as the transnational capitalist class (TCC). Real estate actors with the help of local authorities have taken control of the skyline, redrawing it rather than erasing it. A new ‘glocal’ landscape is emerging where picturesque vistas on iconic historical buildings are protected, serving as the décor for the new skyscrapers. This enables the adoption of a standardised architectural language common to global real estate actors but also a distinction provided by their setting in the London landscape. Our hypothesis is tested through the study of the controversial construction of the Shard and the Pinnacle, two skyscrapers redrawing the skyline of Central London.
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Submitted on : Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 1:43:42 PM
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Manuel Appert, Christian Montès. Skyscrapers and the redrawing of the London’s skyline: a case of territorialisation through landscape control. Articulo - Journal of Urban Research, Articulo - Revue de sciences humaines asbl, 2015, ⟨10.4000/articulo.2784⟩. ⟨halshs-01316052⟩

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