I have got mildly fascinated by the Walkie-Talkie, or 20, Fenchurch Street as it is officially known. How was it that the City Fathers, normally rather conservative, breached all their own guidelines, to allow the construction of such an obviously bloated and inelegant monster, thereby allowing everyone else to build big and ugly in an upward competition, such that even the architects of many of the high-rise buildings are now complaining about the poor quality of the buildings other than those they have themselves designed ?
There is an interesting account of Tom Dyckhoff meeting John Prescott when he was deputy prime minister in Dyckhoff’s excellent The Age of Spectacle: Adventures in Architecture and the 21st. Century City, in which Prescott emerges as an evangelist for what he describes accurately as ‘a new wow factor…That’s WHAT IT IS ! It’s buildings that strike you and you say, ‘Bloody ‘ell’. This is indeed exactly what I say when I look at the Walkie-Talkie. How and why did someone think it was such a great idea to put up so many monster buildings when they already had Canary Wharf ? So, it was a product of Blairism, an embrace of the free market in design by the old left.
Peter Rees describes it as a fruit basket:-