The Shard Tower, The Shard skyscraper in London

London skyscraper The Shard Tower in detail

The Shard, a skyscraper near London Bridge station in Southwark, has 87 floors and reaches 310 m (1,016 ft) in height.

The Shard Tower is one of the tallest buildings in the United Kingdom. It was officially opened on July 5, 2012. To commemorate the event, spectacular laser shows were organized. Since then, visitors can ride high-speed elevators and enjoy a 360-degree panorama of London, covering a distance of up to 60 km (40 miles).

Construction of the skyscraper

The Shard Tower was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. He is said to have been inspired by the sailing ships on the River Thames and the tip of London’s churches.

The skyscraper’s history dates back to the 1998 purchase of the site – formerly the site of a building called Southwark Towers – by developer Irvine Sellar. In the early ’00s, Mr. Sellar traveled to the German capital, where he had a meeting with Renzo Piano, in hopes of obtaining a building permit for the tower.

The latter is known for his architectural feats, such as the Pompidou Center in Paris and London’s Lloyds. Mr. Sellar apparently met architect Renzo Piano at a Berlin restaurant to discuss the design of the tall building. It was widely reported that Mr. Piano at that meeting first called building the tall tower a “statement of arrogance,” and then he did sketch the plan for the Shard.

The tower is built on an extremely solid concrete base, housing important safety components such as escape routes and 44 elevators, several of which are for firefighters. The office floors utilize double-deck elevators to increase the efficiency of the elevator shafts. Three sets of stairs are provided for contingencies, complemented by high-capacity evacuation elevators. This approach is common in cities such as Hong Kong.

The center is designed to withstand massive lateral wind forces. Even in the presence of strong gusts, the Shard Tower moves sideways by no more than 50 cm. For the lower office floors a steel frame is used in the structure. A concrete frame with steel stretchers is for higher hotel and living quarters. Steel allows for long, beam-free spans in offices, and concrete on the upper floors helps create soundproofing in living spaces. The uppermost levels are steel. Here, a rod “truss” system is used to stabilize the skyscraper by tying the beams around the perimeter of the building together.

Interesting Facts

Any skyscraper, even one as tall as the Shard, is necessarily filled with facts, features, and record statistics.

In fact, it is the tallest building in Western Europe. The Shard briefly took first place, but two skyscrapers in Moscow overtook its height in a year.

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Six women climbed the outer walls to the top of The Shard in July 2013.

In July 2013, The Shard Tower was chosen as the site of a Greenpeace protest aimed at drawing attention to Shell’s oil exploration plans in the Arctic.

Construction workers found a fox at the top of the tower. The fox, nicknamed Romeo by the staff, was found on the 72nd floor and is believed to have survived on food left behind by construction workers.

Externally, the Shard consists of 11,000 glass panels. The building is so named because it resembles a shard of glass, and its 11,000 panels have a total area of 56,000 square meters.

It houses a very expensive penthouse. The huge apartment at 224 meters high takes up two floors and has a price tag of 50,000,000 GBP.

The observation deck actually takes up three floors. The observation deck occupies floors 68, 69 and 72. On floor 68 is Cloudscape where you can see different types of clouds over London. On the 69th are interactive telescopes, and the 72nd is dedicated to the forces of nature.

The average climbing speed is 6 meters per second. Although the elevators are very quiet and entertain passengers with videos, it is better to take some chewing gum with you, as it can get your ears clogged.

  • Lobby: floors 0 and 1;
  • Office space: floors 2-28. According to The Financial Times report, the rate is 50-55 GBP per sq. ft;
  • 29-30 are office;
  • Restaurants (31-33) – occupy 121 m;
  • Shangri-La upscale hotel: floors 34-52;
  • Spa (52). This is the part of the hotel from which you can see London in all its details;
  • Luxury Residences (53-65 (heights from 186 m to 224 m)). Among them are those that occupy an entire floor and cost up to 65 million USD. The Financial Times says they won’t sell for several years because the developer wants “the image of the building to be built first;
  • 66-67 are service floors;
  • Overview decks (68-72 with the highest level at 244 m)
  • 73-74 – service floors;
  • Floors 75-87 are within the spire. They are unoccupied, but necessary for the heat radiated by the skyscraper.

Many floors have public access. These include observation decks and restaurants. Hotels, restaurants, living quarters, grounds and offices have their own entrance. You can enter the observation decks at Joiner Street.

Restaurants

  • AQUA SHARD. Innovative British cuisine on the 31st floor as well as an exciting three-story atrium bar.
  • Oblix. Inspired by the New York skyline. The menu features sophisticated urban casual cuisine. Located on the 32nd floor.
  • Hutong. The menu features a variety of Northern Chinese cuisine. Based on the Hutong restaurant in Hong Kong.
  • LANG. Known for its signature Shangri-La cakes, fresh coffee, chocolate and pastries.
  • TING. Contemporary European cuisine with an Asian twist on the 35th floor. Like LANG, it is part of the Shangri-La Hotel.
  • GONG. A cocktail bar located on the 52nd floor with a dramatic view of London. An ideal place to relax and have a late-night drink of all kinds.
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The surface of the tower.

  • The Shard consists of 11,000 panels of glass.
  • The area of the glass façade is 56,000 square meters, which is equal to eight soccer fields.
  • 95% of the building materials can be recycled.
  • 20% of the metalwork is made from recycled material.
  • Each facet forms a shard. The surface of the glass is slightly inclined inward and rises to the top.
  • The shards do not touch the skyscraper, allowing it to “breathe.”

How to get to the tower

Address: The Shard Tower, 32 London Bridge Street SE1 9RL Nearest tube station: London Bridge (2 minutes walk)

The Shard skyscraper website: http://www.the-shard.com/overview/

Adult tickets cost 25 GBP.

In case of bad weather all guests are offered a London Landmarks Guarantee in their tickets. This means that if there are clouds, you can return to the site for free!

London Landmarks Skyscraper.

April to September daily from 10:00 to 22:00, other months Mon-Fri from 10:00 to 19:00, Thu-Sat from 10:00 to 22:00, Thu from 10:00 to 19:00.

Its status as the highest observation deck in London makes the 87-story Shard skyscraper one of the most visited sights in the British capital. If you don’t register in advance through the official website, you might not see the Tower, the Thames and the famous “Eye of London” from 244 meters high. But the view is worth it – the photos from The Shard skyscraper are some of the most published tourist pictures in social networks.

Completed just in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics The Shard was the tallest building in the world. Its height was 310 meters.

The difference with the level of the observation deck is due to the fact that there are several technical floors above it. By 2019, new skyscrapers, including St. Petersburg’s Lakhta, have displaced the “Shard” to the fifth line, but in the capital of the United Kingdom its height is still unsurpassed.

The unusual building was designed by Renzo Piano, an architect who is considered one of the founders of high-tech style. The drawing of a pyramid, consisting of several overlapping pointed facets that tend toward the same peak but do not join at it, first appeared in 2000 on a napkin during a dinner at one of Piano’s restaurants in Berlin. Twelve years later, the sketch was transformed into a glassy, futuristic skyscraper unaccustomed to conservative London, built with funding from a billionaire from Qatar. Despite the contrast of styles and textures, The Shard ended up fitting into the capital’s skyline primarily by its outline and became one of London’s most recognizable landmarks.

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The Shard skyscraper observation deck in London

The main reason why visitors flock to The Shard skyscraper is of course the opportunity to see London from a height of 70 floors. The observation deck covers three floors: 68, 69 and 72. The horizon line from an observer who climbed to such a height is located at a distance of about 64 kilometers. So one can see the outskirts of Cambridge in the north and seaside Brighton in the south. In practice, of course, this is unlikely to happen because of the smog, fog and overcast weather that practically never leaves the capital of the United Kingdom.

But all visitors have access to beautiful views within the boundaries of London. In any weather, you will be able to see the courtyard of the Tower, as well as London Bridge. And the rest of the sights will be as if in the palm of your hand. To the northwest beyond the Thames, for example, you’ll find the silvery dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. If you draw a line to the river, you can find the Millennium Bridge, and on the opposite bank of the river – the Tate Gallery, as well as neighboring to it the most Shakespearean place of the city – the Globe Theater.

Near London Bridge, Her Royal Majesty’s ship, the Belfast, is usually moored. This cruiser was once involved in the battles of World War II, and today is a museum. The ship can also be viewed from above.

Panoramic view of London from the observation deck of the Shard skyscraper:

The Eye of London is also visible from the observation deck. The gigantic Ferris wheel, 135 meters high, seems like a cog in the giant machine of the metropolis. So a visit to the Shard Skyscraper is not only an opportunity to get to know or sum up an impression of London, but also to experience the scale of the modern British capital.

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Before ascending to the observation deck, security personnel conduct a thorough inspection of all guests and their belongings. Then a high-speed elevator takes you to your destination in 30 seconds. When it’s cool, it’s best to wear warm clothes – it’s usually a few degrees cooler at the observation deck than down below, and there are also areas that are outdoors.

Tickets

Tickets for the observation deck cost from £25. There are tickets that give various benefits; they cost more. There are discounts for those who come as part of a group. Discounts are also available for those who book tickets 14 days in advance of their visit or earlier. You can find all the details of the pricing policy of the “Shard” skyscraper on the official site dedicated to the observation deck.

Pay attention to programs that allow you to see several sights. They are usually not much more expensive than a visit to the observation deck, but in addition to a visit to the Shard, they give you access to many other interesting places in London, where you would have to take a separate ticket.

Structure

The Shard skyscraper has 87 floors. The lower block is devoted to offices, it is the largest. Workspaces for various companies occupy the 2nd through 28th floors inclusive. Tenants of the skyscraper include such companies as Warwick Business School, Gallup, Jellyfish, Matches Fashion, Kraft Heinz and others.

The 31st through 33rd floors are home to high-end, average-price Oriental restaurants and bars. Floors 34 through 52 are occupied by the five-star Shangri-La Hotel, one of more than a hundred hotels of the Hong Kong chain with offices on all continents. The room capacity allows only 200 guests to be accommodated on 19 floors.

There are private apartments on levels 53 to 65. At the time of the skyscraper opening, the cost of an individual apartment starts from 90 million dollars. Above the block with apartments are only viewing platforms and technical floors.

By the way, the entrance to both the skyscraper and the hotel to the public restrooms is free. Therefore, some tourists in the reviews advise those wishing to save money, but still enjoy the beautiful panorama, go up to one of the floors of the hotel. The view will be comparable in height to the view from the booth of the “Eye of London” and will cost free of charge. However, there is a nuance – the toilets along the panoramic windows are placed only in the men’s room.

Architect, history

The Shard was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. Already by the age of 35 he had gained fame as the creator of the building of the Centre National d’Art Georges Pompidou in Paris. When he came up with the idea for The Shard, Piano was already 63 years old, he owned his own company, and his extravagant architectural works did not cause such a stir as before.

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Piano would later confess that when designing The Shard in the early ‘noughties he was inspired by Canaletto’s urban landscapes of London, images of ship masts and railroads. Despite the growing popularity of the high-tech style, the prospect of its example appearing in the heart of London was received ambiguously. There were public and political debates about the extent to which the ‘Shard’ was capable of destroying the unified architectural look of the city center. However, as a result, in 2005 the British government granted permission for the construction.

At that time, the site of the future skyscraper was the Southwark Towers office building. In 2007, they began demolishing it, and two years later the site was cleared. Three years of construction began. It is noteworthy that in the beginning of the project its cost was about £ 350 million, but because of the 2007-2008 crisis by the end of construction was £ 1.5 billion – almost five times more than it was planned.

The Prime Minister of Qatar invested in the ambitious project. The opening ceremony, which took place on July 5, 2012 and was accompanied by a grand laser show, was attended not only by investors and representatives of this country, but also by members of the British royal family. The observation decks became available to visitors only in 2013.

Video of the Shard skyscraper in London:

How to get to the Shard Skyscraper in London

The most convenient way to get to the Shard Skyscraper in London is to take the subway. London Bridge station is a 5-minute walk from the landmark. Jubilee and Nothern lines trains run to it. There are bus stops of the same name next to it. Buses number 43, 47, 141, 343, 381, and N381 go to them.

The third way is to get there by city train or commuter train. The London Bridge train station is adjacent to the skyscraper. Transportation is provided by three different companies. See the train schedule on their official websites and choose the right train:

If you are more accustomed to get by cab, you can use the services of companies such as Gett, Uber, Hailo in London.

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