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Learning English - Words in the News
22 August, 2007 - Published 13:37 GMT
High-rise London
City of London skyline

The London cityscape is undergoing a major transformation with many tall buildings appearing and many more on the way. The backers say it all symbolises London's confidence as a global financial centre. But not everyone agrees. This report from Rob Broomby:

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London's skyline is upwardly mobile. Work is about to begin near the Thames on a building called the Shard, a spire of steel and glass that will literally skewer the skyline rising 310 meters. By some measures the sky piercing spike will be the tallest building in Europe, a mark of London's growing confidence according to the developer Barry Ossle:

OSSLE: To make London compete at the highest level, one needs modern architecture, new buildings, iconic buildings.

For him big can be beautiful. The dome of St Paul's Cathedral still stands out above its neighbours - it's a protected view - but in the heart of the financial district, what Londoners call the City, there's a reach for the sky that will see 9 or 10 new high rise buildings shoot-up in the coming years, with a similar number again to supplement the existing towers of the downstream business development known as Docklands.

But tall buildings don't suit all tastes. UNESCO recently warned that the 1,000 year old Tower of London - the Thames-side home to the crown jewels and a key London landmark - was at risk of losing its World Heritage Status as new buildings muscled in. Love them or loath them, there is confidence in buckets here and the new buildings symbolise it. London will never look like Manhattan and on a global scale its buildings may be puny but it is striding into a new era, whilst trying not to forget its past.

Rob Broomby, BBC

Listen to the words

upwardly mobile
being able to move to a higher social class by becoming more wealthy. (This is usually a fixed expression but here, the writer is using the term humorously to show that London's new buildings mean its architecture is similar to other wealthy, modern cities)

stab, spear

very famous, considered as representing a set of beliefs or a way of life (or here, reflecting what a city is like)

high rise buildings shoot-up
new tall buildings are built quickly

don't suit all tastes
not everyone likes the same thing (here, tall buildings)

the crown jewels
the crowns, jewellery, sword and robes worn by the British queen or king during the coronation ceremony

World Heritage Status
the official position of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which says that a building or place is protected and can't be changed or destroyed

muscled in
forced your way into a situation to make certain you are included, although you are not wanted (here, the new buildings are being built which overwhelm or overpower the older, smaller buildings)

there is confidence in buckets
here, London is very confident, is very sure of itself

small, not very significant

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