The Story of the Shard
The vision for creating London’s tallest building came from its developer and joint owner, Irvine Sellar. Initially his dream was to create an architecturally stunning vertical city, a’ diverse vibrant community’ where the public could take in the magnificent view of the city.
From purchasing Southwark Towers in 1998 to persuading award-winning architect Renzo Piano (who incidentally said he hated tall buildings at their first meeting) to design the building in 2000, the journey of the Shard had begun.
Many challenging years lay ahead starting with the lengthy planning process and global economic crash but by 2008 the future of the Shard was secure when the State of Quatar came on board as a partner. The construction team then had to face adversities such as sub-zero temperatures, gale force winds, leaks from the river Thames and the difficult task of manoeuvring building materials around the tightly packed streets of Southwark. Pioneering engineering techniques were employed and after years of hard work, the Shard was complete and officially opened in 2012 by the Prime Minister of Qatar.
It comes as no surprise that the facts surrounding such a striking building are nothing short of awesome! The Shard stands as the tallest building in London and the 59th tallest in the world at 309.6 metres high, that’s almost a third of a kilometre. It has 11,000 glass panels with the area of the glass façade measuring over 56,000 sq metres which is the equivalent of eight football pitches (or two and half Trafalgar Squares) and each facet forms a ‘shard’, a plane of glass inclined inwards, rising to the top. An extraordinary 95% of the construction materials are recycled and 20% of the steelwork is also from recycled sources. 54,000 cubic metres of concrete were used, the equivalent of 22 Olympic sized swimming pools full!
The total floor space measures 27 acres and there are 44 lifts, including double decker lifts to help you get around but if you’re feeling fit, you could always use 306 flights of stairs! Standing 95 storeys tall, 72 levels are inhabitable and 17 levels out of the 23 level ‘spire’, are open to the elements!
The Shard has 27 floors of offices and contains 10 apartments. There are three levels of restaurants to choose from and 19 floors of luxury hotel accommodation. The Shangri-La-Hotel has 185 rooms, with 17 spacious suites which include a personal butler service offering sheer indulgence with spectacular views of London landmarks.
The viewing galleries are on the 68th-72nd floors and stand almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in London offering supreme 360-degree views for up to 40 miles.
As one of the most iconic buildings in London it’s not surprising that this shape can be found replicated in many tourist shops. The striking architecture resembles the crystal glass awards that you see at awards ceremonies all over the world. Being such a beautiful shape, it would look stunning as a display ornament. In fact its contemporary shape has no doubt influenced a many designers to create stunning decorative items for the home or garden.
It’s hard for The Shard not to affect and influence all those who see its majestic spire disappearing into the clouds. Its magnificence adds, in the words of architect Lord Rogers, ‘the most beautiful addition to the London skyline’.