Most people would agree that skyscrapers are synonymous with cities. However, despite London’s international fame and position as an important global megacity, such skyscrapers are somewhat scarce.

A quick glance at the skyline will present us with the instantly recognizable BT Tower, the City ‘trinity’ (Tower 42, Heron Tower and the Gherkin) and surrounding mid-rises, Broadgate Tower, and then the Canary Wharf cluster in the east. As the green belt expands and Londoners complain, it is beginning to become clear that the only way to go is up.

The skyscraper is generally not a welcomed idea with locals. These often incredible feats of modern architecture suffer from a reputation damaged by the Brutalist ‘tower blocks’ spawned in the 1950s-70s.

However, prior to the recession, an incredible amount of high-rises were planned to be built across the capital - buildings that were destined to rid their species of that terribly misleading reputation forever more.

While the recession saw the death of some projects and the pausing of others, over 40 approved or under construction high-rise projects in London remain intact, but many have to endure a lot more than recession to get to that point.

Skyscrapers must go through rigourous council planning ordeals, public inquiries, local opposition groups and intervention from the Civil Aviation Authority and English Heritage.

If the projects manage to withstand this massive barrage of obstacles (and those that do almost always suffer height reductions in the process), they then need to acquire sufficient funding.

Once all boxes have been ticked and construction begins, more obstacles will often begin to fly at projects from all angles, leaving some branded with the purgatorial ‘On Hold’ status.

Few Londoners seem to be knowledgeable of the ‘skyscraper boom’ going on in their own city, let alone the extent to which the skyline will change in the next decade or so.

Many would gasp in surprise on learning that a ‘supertall’ 1,000ft (309m) skyscraper is already well on its way under construction at London Bridge.

London Bridge Tower (‘The Shard’) is set to be one of the most iconic structures in the United Kingdom, gracing the front of postcards from 2012 onwards.

After spending about a decade fighting off various obstacles in the planning stages, including one total redesign, the stunning mix-used tower from renowned architect Renzo Piano will be nearly twice the height of the Gherkin and one of the tallest buildings in Europe.

The same project will also see the redevelopment of London Bridge Quarter, including the massive refurbishment project at London Bridge Station and the demolition and replacement of New London Bridge House, as well as the much needed re-clad of Guy’s Hospital.

The Shard is currently receiving its basement slab pour - the largest ever continuous pour in the UK which will allow the concrete core (currently at 21 floors out of a total 72) to continue rising while the steel frame does so around it.

Across the river in the City of London is Heron Tower. At 202m (with a 30m spire due to be added shortly), the skyscraper is currently the tallest in the City, surpassing Tower 42 which held the title since 1980.

After winning a public inquiry that came from an intervention from English Heritage, Heron Tower began construction seven years after its initial proposal.

The younger brother of this well-received tower, Heron Plaza, with an approved height of 149m (a very slightly shorter height than that of the Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf) is set to begin construction soon.

The current ‘trinity’ in the City have only a limited time to enjoy their dominance over old Londinium.

Bishopsgate Tower, ‘The Pinnacle’, will do exactly what it says on the tin. Cleverly complimenting the surrounding buildings, The Pinnacle will serve as the jewel in the crown of the new-look City of London.

At 288m, the building will appear the same height as The Shard across the river, due to the slight incline in the north. The Pinnacle was originally planned to match the Shard’s height but faced eight years of various obstacles, concluding with a 19m reduction.

Excitingly, as with The Shard, The Pinnacle will host public viewing floors at the top, offering jaw-dropping views across the vast urban sprawl that is London.

The Pinnacle is set for external completion around late 2012, with a significant impact already made on the skyline for the Summer Olympics.

Sir Richard Rogers’ 225m tall giant at 122 Leadenhall Street, dubbed the ‘Cheese Grater’, is currently on hold due to financial damages suffered by developers British Land in the recession.

However, while rumours of the project’s resurrection float around through the industry, supporters of the project are held in suspense as its future is yet to be confirmed officially.

With the massive Riverside South project (consisting of two towers 236m and 189m), Columbus Tower (a 237m skyscraper saved from the Council by Boris Johnson), North Quay (consisting of three towers 216m, 203m and 120m), City Pride (209m), Heron Quays West (three towers 198m, 147m and 95m), 1 Park Place (197m), Millharbour Quarter (151m), Crossharbour (150m) and the Wood Wharf redevelopment project (consisting of four skyscrapers in a completely new district with 3.5 million square feet of office space, 1,500 new homes with retail, leisure and hotels), not to mention many, many other projects in the pipeline, Canary Wharf’s skyline alone will rival Manhattan’s by 2025.

Multi-billion pound regeneration projects across south London will see improvements and modernization in deprived areas such as Lewisham, Deptford, Kidbrooke and Elephant & Castle, bringing with them stunning new skyscrapers such as the 147m tall Strata, the first building in the world with an incorporated wind turbine system.

With approximately 47 high-rise projects approved or under construction currently in London, and many more to come, the new generation of London architecture will bring a sight to behold and a boost to the economy, leaving London with one of the most enviable, unique and remarkable skylines in the world.

By Brad St Ledger