Monday, June 20, 2011

The Shard

click photo to enlarge
The Shard looks set to be one of the most interesting buildings to have been erected in London in recent years. Not only will it be the tallest in the capital (and in the UK and Europe) at 1,017 feet (310m), it will also be a mixed use building, something that is not common in the UK. Floors 2-28 will be offices, 31-33 will be restaurants, 34-52 will be a hotel, 53-65 are reserved for residences, and floors 68-72 are to form an observatory. The designer of the tower, Renzo Piano, likened his creation to a shard of glass and the name has stuck. This glittering, angular, tapered shape will be a dramatic addition to the skyline, a building that is designed to change its appearance in different weathers.

There was some opposition to the construction of such a tall building so close to the centre of London, even one located on the south bank of the Thames. However, the last Labour government gave the planning go-ahead, and I am glad that they did. It seems to me that the height of a new building is an important consideration if it is very near a large, significant older building. But, a big new tower should not be rejected on size alone where this consideration does not come into play. The crucial factor is the quality of what is proposed, and the Shard, it seems to me, is a high quality design that will add something to the London skyline rather than detract from what is already there. Yes, its shape is a little "odd", but it is very appealing: to my mind more so than London's other "oddity", the Gherkin.

I've photographically recorded the Shard as it has been under construction over the past two years, and have meant to post a blog entry with several of the shots. However, I probably won't do this as the Shard's Wikipedia page has done it better (bottom of page). Instead I will post photographs of the building as and when I secure one that I like. This shot was taken during a recent early evening walk where, even without lights, the glass of the building glowed against the dark, sunlit cloud.

Incidentally, the Shard has a very good website that not only explains more about what it will become, but also charts the progress of its construction. I particulary recommend the Gallery and the panoramic views.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.2
Shutter Speed: 1/500
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On