Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Shard

A new beauty on London's skyline.

Sun on The Shard
Recently the tallest tower in the UK, nay in Europe, was inaugurated...The Shard, slicing decisively into the London sky from the Southern bank of the Thames. The tower is 310 metres high, and to celebrate the completion of its outer shell, 12 laser beams radiated from its pinnacle. Tenants won’t move in until next year, but the exterior is now officially complete.

I love The Shard. I think it is a long-overdue beautiful addition to London’s city skyline - like that Gherkin thing is beautiful? Give me a break. But The Shard - ah, it’s lovely! It is designed by the uber-talented Signore Renzo Piano. The Guardian reports on controversy surrounding the tower, but points out that:

“the slender, pyramid-like spire has won praise for its technical sophistication and prismatic form. Even its opponents are not particularly incensed by the design.”

From London Bridge Station: an improvement
The controversy, it seems, relates to its height - it is VERY high - its location, and its ownership. As to the location, right at London Bridge Station in a rather grubby area on the South Bank - who could possibly object to the intrusion of a beautiful object right there? “Out of scale with the London skyline”? Excuse me - the “London skyline” is hardly known for its aesthetic qualities. It is, IMHO, vastly improved by a light, gorgeous Shard slicing upwards from its grubby ground level.

As to the owners, they are Qatari. The occupants - though not yet moved in - are likely to be rather exclusive: marble lobbies, double-decker lifts, offices, luxury hotel, ten duplex apartments on the top floors valued at $30m-50 each. But, you know, there will be a public viewing platform on top. It opens next February and ticket are on sale right now at £24.95 each. 

Qatar owns 95% of The Shard. Qatar’s London portfolio also includes Harrods, the Olympic Village, Chelsea Barracks, portions of Canary Wharf, and Camden Market. The economic transformation of the London property market may be more fundamental than the transformation of its city-scape.

But The Shard is very beautiful.

A vast improvement to the skyline.

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