Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The finished Shard: Europe's tallest (for now)

James Hobbs, The Shard from Southwark Street
Having posted drawings of London's newest tallest building as a promising stump in 2010 and as an unfinished, unfurling skyscraper in 2011, I thought I'd mark its recent opening with another of the finished thing.

The 310-metre building launched with a light display at the beginning of July 2012. We live a few miles to the north and went up on to the roof of the house to watch the lasers beaming around the city. Perhaps our expectations were, like the Shard, too high: it wasn't so exciting.

Is the building any better? The angles of its sides means it invariably reflects the colour of the sky, which I like, even though this particular summer that colour has, until now, been that of rainclouds.

The Shard is distinctive, certainly, but dwarfing and isolated. And how do the £50 million penthouses, luxury hotel and £24.95 adult ticket prices to the as-yet-unopened viewing tower relate to what's happening in the streets it has risen from? How many people from Southwark are working in its offices? I have the feeling it is probably better to be on the inside looking out, than on the outside looking in.

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