SkyScrapers - The Changing Fabric of the City of London (PhotoEssay)

in photography •  5 months ago

I live in the City of London

Over 2,000 years old, it has seen many an architectural change in it's history including the Great Fire of 1666 and The Blitz during World War II. It's a meandering and often medieval feeling place, wrapped around the equally meandering loops of the Mighty River Thames and as a set of distinct areas interlock towards it's centre, It's long felt like one big a village city. Green and low rise, it's retained a sense of proportion unlike other great cities with their monolithic architecture, (until now.) Partly because of strict planning laws which meant to preserve views of the world famous St Paul's Cathedral at the heart of the City.


In Recent Years

planning for tall buildings has been relaxed in London and plans for tall buildings exploded. The city is currently undergoing an unprecedented transformation as the whole city is dressed with cranes, removing, demolishing and rebuilding everywhere possible. Partly driven by a desperate need for new housing by the city's rapidly expanding population but also by investors keen to whack up as many new skyscraper office blocks as possible.


In an attempt to keep the skyscrapers in tight formation the City & Canary Wharf have been chosen as the place to put up your new building. The Shard may stand alone with it's epic 310 metre tip soaring up into the South London sky, but across the river, the new buildings are jostling for position with a view of the river and at times, it looks like they are about to touch.


I Have Been Documenting the Change

with my camera over the last couple of years. Particularly the area around Bishopsgate in the heart of the financial district. The skies are beginning to become occluded and this part of town is beginning to look and feel like the lower part of Manhattan. City workers in tight fitting suits flit between the shadows as teams of neon clad engineers hastily erect yet another concrete and steel floor, glass following in a seemingly haphazard pattern.


I Took a Wide Angle Lens

on a trip through this newly emerging city and using it's panoramic view I captured the buildings leaning over an in, jostling for space, light and attention. New versus old with old becoming overshadowed. The Bank of England with it's austere classical columns, once proudly dominating the landscape, relegated to the bottom tier as glass columns reach ever higher over it's once omnipotent rooftops.


It made me think of BlockChain

and how the old institutions are being slowly eroded to be replaced with much more scalable (and perhaps) less controllable entities. In a world of profit and unbridled capitalism, the strongest & tallest, with the most liquidity wins. Cities are now locked in an endless cycle of perpetual renovation and the old buildings which were built to accommodate yesterdays institutions and workers are inevitably replaced by newer structures.



When we think of new technology, decentralisation looms large in our consciousness with it's promise of democratised & autonomous organisations. We picture ourselves (some of us are) working on super fast internet connections in a virtual business world while sitting comfortably in our beach-side condo's.


These skyscrapers shooting up

seem anathema to that. An insult to the senses and although no doubt with amazing views, only for those lucky enough, (or unfortunate enough) to be working in them, while the people walk below in shadow, among choking fumes and darkness.


I'd Like to See More Imagination

We need green cities with electric cars, birds and insects roaming freely. We need to be able to breathe clean air so that we can live in cities. They are literally killing us as we live through their epic expansion. We really need to expand our thinking about where we are heading as a global civilisation. We are boxing ourselves in metaphorically and physically. We are cutting nature out of our equation. It's time we perhaps began to turn things around and start re-thinking how we actually get to a future which seems to be slipping from our grasp by the day.



14mm wide angle lens by Samyang on an FX body giving a virtual 20mm FOV. This lens at f2.8 has aperture control on a Nikon body and delivers a wonderful landscape image. I have taken advantage of it's super panorama to capture the feeling of being hemmed in by the buildings looming overhead. I originally bought this lens for astrophotography but it has come in handy for landscape photography in many locations which I would not have normally considered. It has a fixed petal and yesterday's bright skies added a dazzle of sunlight, deep shadows and reflections on the acres of glass. The lens is much less expensive than it's Nikon equivalent and it's a really nice piece of budget kit. I had originally planned to take some panoramic shots of the River Thames from London Bridge but I have been documenting the change to the city for quite a while with various lenses and these photos were an inspired moment of clarity on my journey home.

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Great comparison! My relatives survived the v2 rockets in London.


wow, that's a tale to tell the Grandkids. I can't imagine what's it like to live in a city with rockets raining down.. although sadly many people still live with the terror of such events on a daily basis ! London is quite an amazing place and it's seen a lot of history ! thanks @wstanley

Sir such the beautiful city londen can i see more and more londen with u keep suppoting me and i support u


thanks @dilbagpreet. I have many posts of photos of London if you look in my blog history !

indeed. architecture & real-estate are almost beautiful in the same way that nature is; except the fact that it's man-made is purely mind-boggling and awesome.


I agree, we build cities which look natural from very high up, although I sometimes think that cities resemble machinery or circuit boards. Eventually, perhaps we will build cities which are integrated with nature. Indeed in other parts of the world, people and nature are more in harmony, although too much concrete and glass makes for a pretty inhospitable place


Interesting perspective. I never thought of it like that. You've got some great blog posts my friend; considered yourself followed


I particularly liked you penultimate paragraph, about imagination. I've been living in the United Arab Emirates, near Dubai, for 3 years now. Big buildings and construction everywhere. It is fascinating, but there can be times when it is too much. Sometimes there's a need for breathing space.


thanks @mr-neil yes we could imagine much more integrated environments but it seems that the people in control of planning often align themselves with profit oriented developers who lack a sense of perspective. Architectural school needs to imagine a better world because most of what I'm seeing going up recently in London is bloody awful and seems to miss the opportunities present for innovation. And who leaves all the lights on in a skyscraper all weekend ? DUH