The Shard London Bridge is a relatively new skyscraper that has graced the London skyline. It is located in 32 London Bridge, in the Southwark portion of the city. Also known as The Shard and formerly as the London Bridge Tower, this skyscraper is considered as the second tallest free-standing structure in the UK and the tallest building in the European Union.
Shard London Bridge History
The Shard London Bridge replaced the former Southwark Towers, which was built in the site in 1975 and was demolished to make way for the construction of the new skyscraper. Plans to have a skyscraper built on the site started sometime in 2000 when London-based entrepreneur Irvine Sellar decided to redevelop the old Southwark Towers. The redevelopment plan went into several hitches as complaints about the plan were presented to the government by local authorities as well as heritage bodies. After an investigation was made, the redevelopment plan got government approval to commence in November of 2003.
After a lengthy negotiation with the tenants of the old building, the preparations for the demolition of the Southwark Towers eventually went ahead in September of 2007. But the redevelopment plan hit a snag once again as the global financial crisis almost put the construction plans of the skyscraper in jeopardy, with some of the main backers of the project sold its stake. The demolition eventually proceeded on April of 2008.
Construction of the building commenced on March of 2009. The skyscraper eventually was topped out in April of 2012, formally confirming its listed height. The building is set to be completed on July 2012.
Shard London Bridge Features
The Shard was initially designed by architect Broadway Malyan, who created a circular tower composed of 87 storeys. But the design was eventually replaced by an 80-storey skyscraper standing 390 meters high, this time designed by architect Renzo Piano. But the final design eventually went for a 310 meter high building with 66 storeys.
The skyscraper follows a slender, spire-like tower which Piano compares to a “shard of glass”. It is said to inspire the city’s church steeples in the past as well as the masts of ships that once traded on the adjacent River Thames. The building is also said to resemble a sharp, crystal pyramid.
The Shard is considered as the first building in Western Europe that exceeded 1,000 feet in height. The skyscraper consists of public retail spaces on floors 1 to 3, offices on floors 4 to 31, a hotel on floors 37 to 51, apartments on floors 52 to 64 and an upper viewing gallery from floors 65 to 66. It is also considered to as the building with the highest viewing gallery in Europe at 800 feet or 244 meters.