The Shard building, which is located in London Bridge, is the tallest skyscraper in Western Europe. Designed by world renowned Renzo Piano, the structure, which is still under construction, will comprise of ninety five floors. The Shard will be home to high quality office suites, upmarket restaurants, luxury residential apartments and the 5 Star Shangri La Hotel. The building will eventually tower 310 metres (1,017 feet) over South East London and will provide impressive 360 degree panoramic views over the City. The viewing galleries are expected to receive one million visitors a year and people will be able to see as far as Hampstead, Heathrow and the North Downs, up to thirty miles on a clear day.
An estimated 8,000 people will eventually live and work within The Shard and architect Renzo Piano, who co-designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris, sees the building as a ‘Vertical City’. The idea for the concept was taken to Piano more than a decade ago by property developer Irvine Sellar. According to E&T Magazine, Mr Piano has said he wanted to create ‘a shard of glass, a spire tower of angled planes of glass that will reflect light and the changing patterns of the sky so that it will change according to the weather and the seasons’.
In addition to the premium office space, cafes, restaurants, apartments and shops the Shard will also house exhibition and performance space. The highly sought after premium office suites will be located on floors 2-28 and will include conferencing facilities. The five fine dining restaurants will be situated on floors 31-33 and the Shangri La Hotel will be located on floors 34-52, which will have two hundred luxury five star suites and is located on floors 34-52. The exclusive apartments will be situated on floors 53-65 and will be the highest residences in the UK. The Observatory, which is located on floors 68-72, will house the viewing decks. In addition to the twenty six floors of office accommodation within The Shard, more than fifty five square feet of office and retail space will be provided, attached to the eastern corner of the building, called London Bridge Place or referred to as ‘the Backpack’.
There has been some criticism of the ambitious project, which began in 2009, which once complete will have cost and estimated £450 million. English Heritage has reportedly said the Shard will obstruct the view of St Paul’s Cathedral as well as the Houses of Parliament. The Shard is due to be completed by May 2012.