Those travelling along the Thames by boat may have trouble keeping pace with the glossy monoliths emerging from each bank. Nonetheless, a journey down the river offers a glimpse of the penthouse wars that are taking place in London’s prime locations. Penthouses — in their number and scale — hold a mirror to the city’s economic fortunes. In boom times, they proliferate and parade the height of designer decadence; in downturns, they lay low. While London’s property prices sit at unprecedented highs, so do its penthouses — along with the ambitions of the designers behind them, for whom these trophy properties are the ultimate blank canvases.
Some have locations to lust after. Others, thanks to their huge expanses of glazing, offer a glimpse of expensive interior design. But there is surely nothing that can rival the pentuplex — the five-storey penthouse — that will grace the top of One Blackfriars and pierce the central London skyline like a vast, sparkling diamond.