Stunners in the sky
London is known for its wonderful mix of contemporary, traditional and historical buildings that all provide an amazing backdrop to its hazy skyline. Living in London I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the striking architecture it has to offer. Three of the most iconic buildings I’ve visited recently (each with their very own distinct name) are:
- The Shard
One of the newest buildings to sore over the city is the Shard, with over 70 occupied floors reaching skyward into a breathtaking 15-stories the 1000 feet building is now one of the tallest in western Europe. Named after its resemblance of a shard of glass the building has essentially been designed as a glass spire surrounding an internal column of concrete. Built in neo-futuristic style the architect Renzo Paino wanted to create a contemporary building that would stand out against the London skyline without being to overbearing.
“THIS IS MY VISION: I FORESEE THE TOWER AS A VERTICAL CITY, FOR THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE TO WORK IN AND ENJOY, AND FOR MILLIONS TO TAKE TO THEIR HEART.” Renzo Piano
Renzo also designed the building with specialist windows that can reflect light in a distinctive way changing the appearance of the façade during different times of day. Universally Loved and Hated it’s still a recognised as a symbolic building with home to some of the best offices, restaurants and hotel rooms in London – along with breathtaking views.
- The Gherkin
Standing 180m tall at 30 St Mary Axe is the towering London venue known as The Gherkin (also refereed to as the pine Cone and cigar) The famous architect Lord Foster designed its unique rounded form for reasons of aerodynamics and internal ventilation. Like the Shard its style is also neo-futuristic. It has held its own in an increasingly built up cluster of buildings since 2003 and is now one of the most prestigious and iconic venues in London. Unfortunately most of the building is made up of offices but the glass dome at the top of the Gherkin is available for private hire. Great for weddings or exclusive events.
- The Walkie Talkie
The Walkie –Talkie is a commercial skyscraper located at 20 Fenchurch Street, in the historic City of London financial district. It has been nicknamed ‘The Walkie-Talkie’ because of its unique shape. The building was designed by architect Rafael Vinoly in a postmodern style.. The tower was originally proposed at nearly 200m tall but its design was scaled down after concerns about its visual impact on the nearby St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower of London. The top-heavy design is partly intended to maximise floor space towards the top of the building. Design-wise the main challenges were how to structurally balance a building with such an unusual layout and shape. To create this shape the steelwork is faceted to approximate the curvature of the facade. The building is home to many apartments and at the top there is beautiful sky garden enclosure offering panoramic views of the city. The garden spanning three floors is said to be the largest public park in London. With a restaurant, bar and terrace also included amongst the plants and trees it was definitely my favourite building to explore.