Case Study: The Shard

Progress made on Europe's tallest tower under construction in London


The project
This 1,017 ft tower in London was designed by architect Renzo Piano in 2000, and is currently under construction close to London Bridge. When completed in 2012 the Shard will be the tallest building in Europe and include a Shangri La Hotel, residential apartments and office space as well as viewing gallery on 72nd floor.

It will encompass 1.361m ft2 of floor space, with enough room for 600,000 offices, 65,000 flats, a 200,000 ft2 hotel and a total of 44 lifts.

The site
The building replaces the 24-storey Southwark Towers, which was built in 1976 and demolished in 2009, with construction beginning later in the year.

As part of the development around GBP50 million will be invested in London Bridge Station and the surrounding areas, this work will include a museum, housing regeneration programs and a public piazza.

The concept
Rumour has it that when London entrepreneur Irvine Seller first proposed the project to Piano, the architect spoke of his contempt for tall buildings before flipping over the menu and sketching the design.

Piano compared his design to a ‘shard of glass’, hence the tower’s name, and has orientated the triangular facade to reflect the changing patterns of the sky. Unsurprisingly, the entire tower will be clad in glass.

The Details
The engineering of the tower was devised following the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report into the WTC collapse, and is the first in the UK to be designed with these new standards in mind.

It was a controversial project, with opposition from both the Royal Parks Foundation and English Heritage, who believed that the building would cast a metaphoric shadow over St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Shard will surpass three of Europe’s current tallest towers, and two Moscow skyscrapers. Work is currently underway on a tall tower in Moscow that, if finished, would be bigger than the Shard. The tower would remain the tallest building in the EU.

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Construction Week - Issue 765
Jun 29, 2020