One of the excellent ideas included in the City of London’s newest skyscraper is that the ground level will be a large public space. But as is the way with most major applications, many of the generous ideas or best design features get scrapped right at the last minute.
I’m worried that various fears about perceived security threats are going to result in some late planning applications to change the ‘public’ space at the bottom of the building into a secured private space.
I’m certain that a ring of vehicle proof bollards will end up encircling the space. All it takes is for one pushy health and safety jobsworth to make it their mission and it’ll happen.
I’d also be amazed if the space was even remotely public in feel. Security will prevent photos being taken in the space as is the way with all private ‘public’ spaces within buildings. Look no further than the generous ‘public’ space under Foster and Partners’ Tower Place next to the Tower of London. If you try to take a photograph there, security will actually run towards you to stop you.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if one or two controlled entrances were set up along a new perimeter to allow access into the space. Again, someone will raise the security question and insist than anyone entering the space is checked for explosives or guns. I imagine airport style security gates will be installed for public visitors and swipe cards will be used for office workers.
If this ends up feeling like a truly public space, as is shown in the visualisation above, I’ll eat my hair. Although I hope I’m proved wrong.