PLANS FOR Europe's tallest skyscraper have passed the first hurdle after Southwark councillors approved the London Bridge Tower scheme on Monday.
Preliminary design has been completed by consultant Arup on the 305m structure conceived by architect Renzo Piano.
The 66 storey glazed 'shard of glass' will house a mixed commercial and residential 'vertical village' with space for 7,000 people.
Council approval was granted with no objections from individuals or companies. Concerns voiced by councillors about the 11 September attacks and their effects on tall building design were allayed by the scheme's designers.
Arup director John Thornton told NCE that the building will have a reinforced concrete core unlike the World Trade Center towers.
But he added that the attacks had not influenced the preliminary design. 'We were where we are now before 11 September, ' he said, adding that detailed design would take up to four and half years with the building not due for completion until 2007.
Decisions such as use of concrete slabs or steel beams for the floors remained to be taken. The irregular form presented structural engineering challenges, said Thornton.
Arup associate director Barney Jordan said that 1,500mm diameter base grouted piles would be bored over 35m deep into Thanet Sands under London Clay.
'These will have to be threaded through a chequerboard pattern of existing piles under a building to be demolished, ' he said, adding that removing these was unfeasible.