The Gherkin of London

Gherkin of LondonWhen you find yourself somewhere in the vicinity of London’s financial district, you may notice an odd-looking building that towers above the maze of other buildings in the area. Its unique oblong shape has made it quite a noticeable landmark in the city. It is a building known as 30 St. Mary Axe, more popularly known as "The Gherkin".

The Gherkin is a 180-meter tall building located in London’s busy financial district, also considered as the city’s second tallest building after Tower 42. Its principal architect is from the firm Foster and Partners, headed by Pritzker Prize winner Lord Foster and Ken Shuttleworth along with Arup engineers.

The building stands on the former site of the historic Baltic Exchange building which was then severely damaged by an IRA bomb sometime in 1992. The site required a new building that would take the place of the Baltic Exchange, which was then discovered to have sustained damage that was too severe to undergo any full restoration.

The building was constructed by Skanska and took from 2001 to 2004 to finish. The building made use of modern energy-saving construction and design methods in order to make the whole building more energy efficient. It allowed the building to eventually consume only half of the power that a similar conventional structure would normally consume.

The gaps that are designed on each floor create six shafts that act as part of the natural ventilation system of the building. These shafts works by trying to sandwich air between two layers of glazing to create a giant double glazing effect and provide insulation for the internal spaces of the building. The shafts also pull warm air out of the building during the summer and helps warm the building during the winter by using passive solar heating. The shafts also allow more sunlight to pass through the building interiors, providing more natural light and keeping the lighting costs down.

The building’s fully triangulated perimeter structure allows the building to have sufficient stiffness to go against structure sways as a result of wind force. Other buildings of the same size would have made use of reinforced core columns to increase lateral stability or stiffness or make use of active mass dampers, which The Gherkin never used in its design. And despite the building having that overall curved glass shape, there is, surprisingly, only one piece of curved glass used throughout the structure. It can be found on the lens-shaped cap at the very top of the structure.

The Gherkin has been considered as one of the most noticeable landmarks of London today. Its design features have made it one of the most unique buildings in the world. Not only that, The Gherkin has been voted in December of 2005 as one of the most admired new buildings in the world, from a survey of some of the largest and most prestigious architectural firms in the world.

 
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