Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cranes: Frigging everywhere!!!

Crane panaroma
You can't see them very clearly on the photo, but from London Bridge I counted 25. There are, I can assure you, many many more that aren't observable from the bridge. When I first started working in Millbank Tower I surveyed London from one of the meeting rooms and stood there trying to count the cranes with Dianne. I'm sure we got to 40 before giving up, and the number must be greater now.

Cranes are the smoke to the tall building construction site's fire. Above the right-most pier of Blackfriars Brisge, to the right of the Saint Basil's-ish looking minarets, is a fuzzy patch on the skyline. It's actually a bunch of cranes, and I had no idea why they were there. I've so far concluded it's probably New Street Square. I had heard of the project, but as the tallest of the buildings is less than 100m I decided to ignore it. However, I may have to reconsider. This is partly motivated by my never being entirely happy with the arbitrary nature of the 100m cut off, but also because there are only 2 100m+ buildings under construction in the City of London; New Street Square is the third tallest, and so has intrinsic interest, at least until my time gets drawn by the commencement of e.g. the shard of glass.

But these cranes pop up in the most surprising of places.

Cheapside is full of buildings. You could replace a section of the Great Wall of China with Cheapside and it would be no less impenetrable. But even here they are building things... at least, they are if my crane/smoke analogy holds true. Possibly what they're doing is putting buildings on top of each other. It's not as silly as it sounds. Look at this:

At Fourteen Cornhill it seems to be exactly what they're doing. The architects who stuck to low rise buildings back in the bad old days of architecture conservatism clearly had a plan B for skyline domination up their sleeves.

So, we've had cranes on a fully occupied street... on top of a building. Where else might they be skulking? How about inside a building?

Ok - so it is cheating a bit as the building (201 Bishopsgate) isn't anywhere near finished, but I still think it demonstrates a respectable amount of ingenuity. The building site is pretty small, and the surrounding roads busy, so going for the traditional method of planting cranes around the edge of the site wasn't practical. So the system they've adopted is to build the structure around at least one of the cranes, and dismantle it later. Maybe it's fairly widespread practice (come to think of it, they must have done the same for the Willis Building), but I'm glad I've noticed it.

As is my want, here is a photo which rises momentarily above the drudgery of architectural survey to finish the post.

I must adjust the width of these posts. In time for the photo of Christmas cranes to follow in a few days.

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