The Crane Index

7 February 2013 – 11:21 pm



This week visitors from San Francisco pointed out how much major building development is taking place near their London office in trendy Old Street. It would be hard to disagree and it would seem the Crane Index is back. Namely a very approximate way to gauge prosperity by counting the cranes on the urban skyline.

The landmark developments which languished for a short while as markets spiralled downwards, and then in part had an uneasy wait for slow to come finance, seem to now be moving aplomb.

Since the global success of Sir Norman Foster’s iconic Gherkin at 30 St Mary Axe built a decade ago, great names abound, the conical and uber-tall Shard, the Walkie Talkie, Cheese Grater and more conventionally monikered Heron Tower. It seems there is an insatiable desire to build skywards.

The great advantage of modern building techniques is the same footprint can now host a much larger densely occupied building. In theory less buildings needed for the same amount of people. This is the theory, of course, build, build, build needs to be the mantra to keep the Crane Index at a lofty high.

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