Innovation Station – The Shard

Innovation Station – The Shard

09th August 2017

The Shard of Glass is a 95 storey skyscraper in Southwark, London and forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development.  At a whopping 309.7 metres (1,016 ft.) high, the Shard is the tallest building in the UK and the fourth tallest building in Europe.  Construction began in March 2009 and was completed three years later in March 2012.  The Shard boasts a privately operated observation deck, The View from the Shard which offers visitors the opportunity to take a high speed elevator to one of the viewing decks and take in some breath-taking 360 degree views of up to 40 miles across London while sipping champagne.

The Shard was designed by Genoan-born Italian architect Renzo Piano who comes from a long line of master builders and co-designed the famous Pompidou Centre in Paris.  The Shard replaced a 24 storey office block built in 1975 and eventually demolished in 2008.  The initial plans for The Shard were opposed by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and several heritage bodies leading to an order for a planning inquiry by then Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.  Planning consent was approved after the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister determined that the building would be of the highest architectural quality.

Funding for the building was mainly provided by a consortium of Qatari investors who paid £150 million to secure an 80% stake in the project which currently jointly owns the whole London Bridge Quarter with Sellar Property, a British property group headquartered at Mayfair in London.

Inspiration for The Shard came from the railway lines next to the site, the masts of sailing ships and the London spires depicted by the 18th Century Venetian artist Canaletto.  The design faced criticism from English Heritage who claimed the building would be “a shard of glass through the heart of historic London” and the building adopted its name from this quote. 

The Shard was designed to be energy efficient and is fitted with a combined head and power plant operating on natural gas from the National Grid.  Fuel is converted to electricity efficiently and heat is recovered from the engine to provide the building’s hot water. 

In 2014 The Shard was awarded first place at the Emporis Skyscraper Awards which celebrates buildings over 100 metres (328 ft.) tall completed in the previous 12 months.  The Emporis judges hailed the building as a skyscraper which is immediate recognised and was already considered to be London’s new emblem. 

The Shard has attracted more than its fair share of urban explorers, climbers and base jumpers over the years and in September of 2012 a team of 40 people (which included the Duke of York) abseiled from the tower’s 87th floor to raise money for the Outward Bound Trust and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.  In 2013, six female Greenpeace volunteers climbed The Shard and unfurled a flag in protest against Arctic oil drilling before being arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

In 2013, The Shard played a significant role in the Doctor Who episode “The Bells of Saint John” as headquarters of the antagonist the Great Intelligence.  Doctor Who rode a motorbike vertically on the face of the building and through a window to reach the headquarters.