22 other skyscrapers that we assume will be joining the Tulip on the London skyline

Artist's impression. See if you can guess which one The Tulip is. Image: Foster + Partners.

This week City of London planners have approved a new ‘the’ skyscraper to join the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, and the Cheese Grater on London’s skyline: the Tulip, so-called because it looks like how someone crap at drawing would draw a tulip.

If it actually ends up getting built, the Tulip will be stand out in function as well as design in that it will serve no particular function other than being there. You can go up, look around, and make yourself a certificate saying “I went up the Tulip” to show to your tired family when they ask what you’re doing with your life.

Social media is going CRAZY about it, i.e. several articles have been written on the basis that they’ve found at least one tweet saying it looks like a sperm or a sex toy. Historic England are furious that it will ruin the “setting of the Tower of London”, which is clearly enough of a sex toy for them. But wait until they find out about this top secret list of future London skyscrapers someone’s just leaked to CityMetric:

The Satire

A single flat at the top of a long pole which costs more than the net worth of anyone on earth to rent. For a day.

The Brexit

Not so much a tower as a 2000 foot high gaping void into hell that burns anyone who looks at it regardless of whether they thought it was a good or bad idea in the first place.

The Allen Key

Slowly unscrews its own foundations out of the earth, then falls over in order to temporarily restore London’s historic reviews while they send the crane to haul it back up.

The Bernard Matthews Turkey Drummer

The first skyscraper in London to made out of reconstituted meat product is bootiful but controversial until tests reveal that the meat content is so low that the tower is actually vegan.

The Queen Elizabeth

A building that has absolutely nothing to do with the Queen inexplicably renamed after her presumably just so weird pervert royalists can enjoy going up inside it.

The Post Office Tower

Replica of the BT Tower built nearby purely to annoy people who keep calling it the Post Office Tower like it’s still 1973 or whatever

The Old Post Office Tower

A second replica of the BT Tower built nearby because you’re not going to call it that either.

The Jenga

Innovative skyscraper design featuring inexpensive, but largely fatal, removable office spaces.

The Swan Vesta

Opening 5 November 2021. Reconstruction to start 6 November 2021.


The Shard, Except Upside Down

The Tower That Looks Like A Horse Doing The Washing Up

The Sword Out Of Thundercats

The Nelson’s Column But With A WeWork In It

The Battery That’s Never The Size Of Battery You Need For This Particular Remote Control

The Kinder Egg

The surprise it has capitalism inside.

The Pop-up Pirate

The Bollard

The Annoying Branded Pint Glass With A Stem On It

The Proctoscope

The Spirograph

The Scaletrix

Will be closed indefinitely after someone makes the lifts go too fast and they shoot out of the shafts and get smashed to bits.

The Spanner

Tower in the shape of YOUR FACE, owned, you idiot.

 
 
 
 

Older people need better homes – but then, so does everybody else

Colne, Lancashire. Image: Getty.

Towards the end of last year, I started as an associate director at the Centre for Ageing Better, working particularly on our goal around safe and accessible homes. Before I arrived, Ageing Better had established some ambitious goals for this work: by 2030, we want the number of homes classed as decent to increase by a million, and by the same date to ensure that at least half of all new homes are built to be fully accessible.

We’ve all heard the statistics about the huge growth in the number of households headed by someone over 65, and the exponential growth in the number of households of people over 85. Frustratingly, this is often presented as a problem to be solved rather than a major success story of post war social and health policy. Older people, like everyone else, have ambitions for the future, opportunities to make a full contribution to their communities and to continue to work in fulfilling jobs.

It is also essential that older people, again like everyone else, should live in decent and accessible homes. In the last 50 years we have made real progress in improving the quality of our homes, but we still have a lot to do. Our new research shows that over 4 million homes across England fail to meet the government’s basic standards of decency. And a higher proportion of older people live in these homes than the population more generally, with over a million people over the age of 55 living in conditions that pose a risk to their health or safety.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to ensure all our homes meet a decent standard. A small number of homes require major and expensive remedial work, but the overwhelming majority need less than £3,000 to hit the mark. We know how to do it. We now need the political will to make it a priority. Apart from the benefits to the people living in the homes, investment of this kind is great for the economy, especially when so many of our skilled tradespeople are older. Imagine if they were part of training young people to learn these skills.


At a recent staff away day, we explored where we would ideally want to live in our later lives. This was not a stretch for me, although for some of our younger colleagues it is a long way into the future.

The point at which the conversation really took off for me was when we moved away from government definitions of decency and accessibility and began to explore the principles of what great homes for older people would be like. We agreed they needed light and space (by which we meant real space – our national obsession with number of bedrooms as opposed to space has led to us building the smallest new homes in Europe).

We agreed, too, that they needed to be as flexible as possible so that the space could be used differently as our needs change. We thought access to safe outdoor space was essential and that the homes should be digitally connected and in places that maximise the potential for social connection.

Of course, it took us just a few seconds to realise that this is true for virtually everyone. As a nation we have been dismal at moving away from three-bed boxes to thinking differently about what our homes should look like. In a world of technology and factory building, and as we build the new generation of homes we desperately need, we have a real chance to be bold.

Great, flexible homes with light and space, in the places where people want to live. Surely it’s not too much to ask?

David Orr is associate director – homes at the Centre for Ageing Better.