Skyscrapers and economic crises revisited. A soothsayer’s perspective on the Shard

Skyscrapers and economic crises revisited. A soothsayer’s perspective on the Shard

I’ve been increasingly worried about the possible collapse of the construction industry into a rather deep recession for some time.

I have tended to keep my concerns in check, having gained a reputation for being gloomy.

But while it’s tricky to tell accurately with the available data, the new orders figures just don’t seem to be healthy enough to me to support the current level of construction output. Ergo – to my mind at least – a nasty drop in output of new work seems highly probable.

So when the normally jolly Markit/CIPS construction survey headed south, as it did in the latest month, it made me even twitchier still.

But it wasn’t until this morning that I saw the full picture. It’s the Shard that we should be worried about.

Being a broadly rational fellow I recognised this as a moment of madness. But that doesn’t stop the workings of superstition even within the most sober.

Were I a soothsayer I’d be tugging at the Emperor’s toga crying “cave speculum” or some other oblique nonsense.

And here’s why.

Today sees the official opening of Sellar’s, Piano designed Shard, the tallest tower in Europe.

You couldn’t imagine a worse combination of concepts and words were you seeking an ill omen.

Let’s see.

Sellar’s: Said quickly together with market and that’s not good.

Piano: Doesn’t that mean soft in music?

Shard: A fragment of a brittle object. Surely that implies breakage.

Tallest tower: I’ll come back to that later…

Europe: Well, least said soonest mended.

Now I could have delved deeper into the murky history of Southwark where this erection is located.

I could have explored the theme of brash money. I could have explored the rather worrying biblical themes in story of the Tower of Babel.

There are so many aspects to the Shard that could be grasped by a suspicious mind as signs of imminent doom.

But for me the clincher has to be the seemingly more rational Skyscraper Index and the Shard being proclaimed the tallest tower in Europe.

So I looked back to my blog on the subject written in November 2008.

I rather wish I hadn’t…

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