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.

 
 
 
 

This election is our chance to treat housing as a right – but only if we listen to tenants

The Churchill Gardens Estate, Westminster, London. Image: Getty.

“You’re joking, not another one... there’s too much politics going on at the moment..!”

Brenda of Bristol’s televised comments in 2017, when told that another election was to take place, could just as well have been uttered when MPs voted to call a general election for 12 December this year. 

Almost immediately the politicking began. “A chance to transform our country”. “An opportunity to stop Brexit/get Brexit done”. ‘We can end austerity and inequality.” “A new revitalised parliament.” “Another referendum.”

Yet dig behind the language of electioneering and, for the first time that I can recall, there is mention of solving the housing crisis by all the major parties. I can welcome another election, if the result is a determination to build enough homes to meet everyone’s needs and everyone’s pocket.

That will require those who come to power to recognise that our housing system has never been fit for purpose. It has never matched the needs of the nation. It is not an accident that homelessness is increasing; not an accident that families are living in overcrowded accommodation or temporary accommodation, sometimes for years; not an accident that rents are going up and the opportunities to buy property are going down. It is not an accident that social housing stock continues to be sold off. These are the direct result of policy decisions by successive governments.

So with all the major parties stating their good intentions to build more homes, how do we ensure their determination results in enough homes of quality where people want to live, work and play? By insisting that current and prospective tenants are involved in the planning and decision making process from the start.

“Involved” is the key word. When we build new homes and alter the environment we must engage with the local community and prospective tenants. It is their homes and their communities we are impacting – they need to be involved in shaping their lived space. That means involvement before the bull-dozer moves in; involvement at thinking and solution finding stages, and with architects and contractors. It is not enough to ask tenants and community members for their views on plans and proposals which have already been agreed by the board or the development committee of some distant housing provider.


As more homes for social and affordable rent become a reality, we need tenants to be partners at the table deciding on where, how and why they should be built there, from that material, and with those facilities. We need them to have an effective voice in decision making. This means working together with tenants and community members to create good quality homes in inclusive and imaginatively designed environments.

I am a tenant of Phoenix Community Housing, a social housing provider. I am also the current Chair and one of six residents on the board of twelve. Phoenix is resident led with tenants embedded throughout the organisation as active members of committees and onto policy writing and scrutiny.

Tenants are part of the decision making process as we build to meet the needs of the community. Our recently completed award-winning extra care scheme has helped older people downsize and released larger under-occupied properties for families.

By being resident led, we can be community driven. Our venture into building is small scale at the moment, but we are building quality homes that residents want and are appropriate to their needs. Our newest development is being built to Passivhaus standard, meaning they are not only more affordable but they are sustainable for future generations.

There are a few resident led organisations throughout the country. We don’t have all the answers to the housing situation, nor do we get everything right first time. We do know how to listen, learn and act.

The shocking events after the last election, when disaster came to Grenfell Tower, should remind us that tenants have the knowledge and ability to work with housing providers for the benefit of all in the community – if we listen to them and involve them and act on their input.

This election is an opportunity for those of us who see appropriate housing as a right; housing as a lived space in which to thrive and build community; housing as home not commodity – to hold our MPs to account and challenge them to outline their proposals and guarantee good quality housing, not only for the most vulnerable but for people generally, and with tenants fully involved from the start.

Anne McGurk is a tenant and chair of Phoenix Community Housing, London’s only major resident-led housing association.