Shard

It’s hard to believe but, at 310m, The Shard is more than three times the height of Brighton’s tallest tower, Sussex Heights.

The site occupied by The Shard was previously home to the 100m high Southwark Towers which towered over London Bridge station. To put this into perspective, Sussex Heights stands at 102m. To knock down something so substantial, that was built as recently as 1976, and still make a profit, the new building had to be huge. As the tallest building in the UK (and ‘the EU’, whatever that means), it is immense.

The Shard is said to have been conceived in 2000 at a meeting between Italian architect Renzo Piano and London entrepreneur Irvine Sellar. Like all great ideas, it started as a sketch in a restaurant. The wider project includes the reconfiguration of the adjoining bus station, improvements to the train station below, and the construction of a shorter accompanying building called London Bridge Place.

The firm Mace was appointed as project manager in 2004 and then as building contractor in 2007. With a workforce of around 1,000 on site, The Shard is set to be completed this year at a cost in the region of £450 million. It is the world’s first skyscraper to use a top-down construction method for its structural core which means that floors were being dug underneath whilst the building grew above. It also features the largest continuous concrete pour that the UK has ever seen.

Plane warning lights at key points remind that this building is incredibly tall. There will be 95 floors in total. The lower floors (2-28 so I use the word ‘lower’ loosely) will be offices. Above these will be a Shangri-La Hotel (34-52) followed by flats (53-65), an observatory (68-72) and a spire.

The view from the top really is quite something but I personally prefer views from around the 30th floor. As a former resident of Sussex Heights, I recall a similar situation where the views from the 15th were more interesting, but less breathtaking, than those from the 25th. It is all about being able to see people on the ground or in nearby buildings. The alternative is a view similar to that from a plane.

A love of 65th floor views is not the only requirement for ownership of the penthouse. There is also the small matter of the estimated £200 million asking price.