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One Undershaft: City of London's tallest skyscraper will offer free public access to capital's skyline

Plans to build the tallest skyscraper in the City of London have been unveiled by Eric Parry Architects, who say it will feature the UK’s highest free public viewing gallery.

At a height of 309.6m (1,000ft), Parry’s commercial tower, named 1 Undershaft, will be as tall as its Renzo Piano-designed neighbour The Shard – currently the tallest building in western Europe. It will be located in the heart of the capital's financial district, between Norman Foster's Gherkin and the Cheesegrater tower by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

The design envisions large areas of public space at both the top and bottom of the skyscraper. A new public square will be created at the base, while the top floors will feature educational, cultural and performance space in addition to the gallery and London's highest restaurant, which will seat 200 people. These facilities will be accessed by a direct lift that takes members of the public to the top floors of the building for free, seven days a week.

Visitors to the top-floor viewing gallery will be able to see as far as 62km (38 miles) into the horizon. An interactive attraction, likely to be operated by a major London museum, will be created here to provide information about the growth and history of the capital.

The design for 1 Undershaft – commissioned by Singapore-based Aroland Holdings – visualises a simple square-shaped tower featuring huge red cross braces, white louvre cladding and special fins to reduce solar glare and keep the building cool. In total, the structure will provide more than 90,000sq m (968,750sq ft) of net internal area.

Much of this will be occupied by offices, but the architects said there will be plenty of room for other leisure components such as gyms and fitness facilities. Storage for 1,500 bikes will be included to promote active commuting for people working in the tower.

“The building represents the very best of British architecture something we hope Londoners will be very proud of,” said studio principal Eric Parry.

“It will be a building where the public are put first, reconnecting them with the city’s tall building cluster, becoming the jewel in the crown of the City of London.”

Parry’s proposal for the square at the base of the tower will be realised by elevating the building’s reception lobby, creating an open space below the skyscraper itself for members of the public to walk under. In the winter there are plans for ice rinks be installed, while an open-air cinema and multi-use events space are being considered for the summer months.

The designers plan to demolish the 28-storey St Helens building, which is currently located on the site, but will retain its basement. This will be transformed into a 1,800sqm (19,300sq ft) retail area featuring new restaurants, cafes, and shops.

A planning application for the project will be submitted to the City of London in the New Year, with a final decision expected by Q2 2016. If the plans are given the green light, it will take 18 months to demolish the existing tower and up to five years to build the new one.

Aroland Holdings are working with planning consultants DP9, who have worked on the huge regeneration of Battersea Power Station, and engineering advisors WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff.

A budget for the project has not yet been released.

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Plans to build the tallest skyscraper in the City of London have been unveiled by Eric Parry Architects, who say it will feature the UK’s highest free public viewing gallery. At a height of 309.6m (1,000ft), Parry’s commercial tower, named 1 Undershaft, will be as tall as its Renzo Piano-designed neighbour The Shard – currently the tallest building in western Europe. It will be located in the heart of the
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At 309.6m tall, the skyscraper be as tall as near-neighbour The Shard, currently the UK's tallest building / Eric Parry Architects
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