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Friday, February 26, 1999 Published at 15:14 GMT

UK Politics

Glass house for London mayor

An artists impression of the new London Assembly

A 10-storey glass-fronted building on the banks of the Thames river will be the home of London's new mayor.

The BBC's Shaun Ley looks at the proposed site and building
Ministers have given their formal backing to a futuristic design by architect Sir Norman Foster.

The building will be situated on the south side of the Thames near Tower Bridge.

[ image: Is it a bubble, soap dish or a mask?]
Is it a bubble, soap dish or a mask?
The cost of the building to the tax-payer has not been announced. It is not expected to be complete by the time the first mayor is ready to take up their powers in the year 2000.

Minister for London Nick Raynsford told MPs that the £20m structure will house the mayor's office, assembly chamber and the authority's 400 staff.

Soap dish or glass bubble?

Critics remain undecided as how to best describe the new building. It has already been likened to a glass bubble, a soap dish and a fencing mask.

Mr Raynsford said: "This has been a very close competition with two excellent options, the site at London Bridge City and Victoria House in Bloomsbury Square, to choose from in the final stages.

"I am delighted to announce that we are going ahead with the London Bridge city site. There will be an outstanding new building designed by one of the world's leading architects, Sir Norman Foster, on a prime London site."

[ image: Sir Norman: Giving London a transparent assembly]
Sir Norman: Giving London a transparent assembly
The building, which will be occupy a 13 acre site, features a pier to allow the mayor and visitors to arrive by boat.

Describing his design, Sir Norman said: "A building that you can look at from the outside and see inside."

He added that it is truly green as new technology meant that vegetable oil could be used to power the building without making any greenhouse gases.

Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, often spoken of as a potential candidate for London mayor, has praised the new building.

He said: "Londoners will be proud of the new home of London government and London government will be proud to be on the south bank, one of the most spectacular locations in the country."

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