You think plans for the ‘Tulip’ Tower are bad? London almost had a giant penis on its skyline

THIRTY years ago architects set their sights on erecting a PENIS shaped skyscraper in the heart of London.

Likened to a giant dildo – the Green Bird building was set to dominate the skyline on the river at Battersea and would have stood 132m taller than the Shard.

The Green Bird building was a penis shaped sky scraper planned for Battersea, central London

Londoners raised their eyebrows when plans for The Tulip tower were recently unveiled, but maybe they should thank their lucky stars because things could have been so much worse.

Unlike most skyscrapers, the 83-floor Green Bird didn’t rise straight up straight in a conventional design – instead it culminated with a sort of floppy top.

Its architects, Prague-based firm Future Systems, claimed this was to “reduce wind resistance and structural stress” but others thought it simply made the tower resemble a luminous love toy.

Another interesting design feature of the tower was a “diagrid steel lattice” that would wrap around the structure – giving it a bizarre ribbed look.

Rising up 442metres the Green Bird would have towered over London’s tallest building, the Shard

However, fortunately for the people of London, the Green Bird’s audacious plans failed to get the support they needed to dramatically change the cityscape in 1990.

However, Future Systems did have more success with other projects and were commissioned to design Lord’s Cricket Ground’s Media Centre.

Just like the Green Bird – The Tulip has had its fair share of phallic comparisons.

During a consultation meeting the plans, by architects Foster + Partners, were slammed, with one critic saying: “this proposal reeks of desperation in its straining after ostentatious effect”.

Another said: “Is there a competition for the ugliest skyscraper?”

While others remarked it would be better suited to “Dubai than London” and resembled a giant penis, reports the Guardian.

The project also now faces a battle over health and safety, after experts at London City Airport claimed it could interfere with air traffic.

The team said gondalas designed to move up and down the top of The Tulip tower are at risk of confusing air traffic control systems.

© DBOX for Foster + Partners

The futuristic build is expected to be open to the public in 2025[/caption]

© DBOX for Foster + Partners

The Tulip will have glass pods that will rotate around the glass ‘bud’ section of the building[/caption]

Similar to the Cheese Grater, Gherkin and Walkie Talkie, The Tulip gains its name from it’s distinctive shape that mimics the well-known bloom.

A 12-storey glass bud stands on top of a 787ft concrete shaft right next to the Gherkin, with eight floors of viewing platforms.

Standing tall at 1,000ft, the structure will feature glass pods on the outside of the building that will allow visitors to hover above the city and take in the views.

Once completed, the flower-inspired building will be London’s second tallest skyscraper in the city, just five meters smaller than The Shard, in London Bridge.

© DBOX for Foster + Partners

The flower-inspired building is expected to bring in one million visitors when it opens[/caption]

Glass slides and bridges are planned for the interior, as well as interactive displays and talks from experts about the capital’s history on the ‘education floor’.

Around 20,000 free visits for state school children will be offered each year.

The company’s founder and executive chair Norman Foster said the building would be a “cultural and social landmark”, according to BBC.

The other ones that didn’t make it…

Watkins Tower

London nearly had it’s own answer to the Eiffel Tower. In 1892 work began to build the structure designed by Sir Edward Watkin in Wembley.

It was supposed to hit the dizzy heights of 1,175ft but financial difficulties meant it never got finished.

Instead, it reached just 154ft before being scrapped. Wembley Stadium now stands in its place.


The Watkins Tower (left) was going to be London’s answer to the Eiffel Tower (right) but plans got shelved during the build[/caption]

Citygate Ecotower

The Citygate Ecotower was first touted in 2007 as an environmentally-friendly addition to the London skyline.

At 1,558ft and with 108 floors it would have dwarfed The Shard.

It was designed to have a low energy footprint thanks to the natural stack effect ventilation and photo-voltaic panels on the cladding.

But it never emerged in Aldgate and the Gherkin now dominates the skyline instead.

The Citygate Ecotower planned for Aldgate would have dwarfed even The Shard
M3 Architects

Eco Energy Station

As part of the multi-million pound Battersea Power Station redevelopment, plans were floated in 2008 for a 980ft ‘eco tower’.

Described by Boris Johnson as an ‘inverted toilet roll holder’, it was a bizarre design for south of the river.

The plans involved turning Battersea into an eco-energy station, complete with a 300ft chimney, but it was later shelved.

The power station is now on course to see its tranformation into a luxury residential development with restaurants and shops complete in 2020.

The Eco Energy Station was dubbed an ‘inverted toilet roll holder’ by Boris Johnson
Battersea Power Station/Handout

Helter Skelter Building

The ‘Helter Skelter’ building is still on course to be built at 22 Bishopsgate in the City – but previous plans for it to be the second tallest skyscraper in Europe after The Shard were dropped.

Original plans for a 945ft tower dubbed The Pinacle had to be suspended in 2012 following the Great Recession.

It’s twisty exterior earned it the nickname ‘Helter Skelter’ – but this design was shelved in 2013 after a review.

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button