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The Shard London’s Tallest Tower – London Bridge Tower

Designed by Renzo Piano; The Shard will be the tallest building in Western Europe, its crystalline façade transforming the London skyline with a mixed-use 310 m (1,016 ft) vertical city of high-quality offices, world-renowned restaurants, the 5-star Shangri-La hotel, exclusive residential apartments and the capital’s highest viewing gallery offering 360° views.

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-38-RPBW-Sam-Roberts-759x380 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© RPBW-Sam Roberts

The architect Renzo Piano project author, Nobel-Prize of Architecture in 1998 and who had also designed the famous Tower of New York Times on the island of Manhattan, has managed to positively revitalize the Southwark area of London using a hybrid building with a major program aimed at residential, hotel and offices. The building, which is integrated prominently in the skyline of the city very close to London Bridge tube station-node connections and communications backbone of the city, will become its 310 meters high skyscraper architectural highest in Europe.

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-37-Michael-Shellim-759x506 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© Michael Shellim

This new era will completely alter the city’s skyline as tall buildings will be sprouting everywhere to house new office, commercial, and residential activities. Of these new structures, Renzo Piano’s 310 meter high mix-used tower, The Shard (be sure to check out our coverage of the tower), will not only become London’s tallest tower, but also the tallest building in all of Western Europe.

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-35-Paul-Raftery-885x1200 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© Paul Raftery

The structural design of the building consists of a core service of reinforced concrete that is constructed by a self-climbing system without aid of any crane construction process similar to that used in the construction of bridges. The floors, which are based on this core communications services vertical, are supported by a metal structure very close to the perimeter curtain wall. The majestic facade, fully lined, translucent-glass provides beautiful colors throughout the day as the sun’s rays impinge on it. The majestic building, located at 33 London Bridge Street and has 73 floors above ground, has 10 apartments, 200 hotel rooms, several floors of offices, restaurant and an observation lookout located 244.3 meters .

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-32-Michel-Denance-759x380 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© Michel Denancé

Far from a design used as a symbol of wealth and power, Renzo Piano manages to bring something new to the community through a new green building and sustainable development that respects the environment and his surroundings, like the towers of Marina City in Chicago, Bertrand Goldberg’s design for the new Renzo Piano tower of London wanted to create “a city within a city” as a vertical city. The monumental building, which invites to think of a better tomorrow, it integrates great with their immediate urban environment in the landscape of the city, altering its skyline and getting in passing the record high in Europe. Very good examples of other interesting tall buildings constructed or under construction in the city of London are the Canary Wharf Tower designed by César Pelli, 30 St. Mary Axe by Norman Foster, the Broadgate Tower of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, SOM or the Leadenhall Building, designed by renowned architect Richard Rodgers, who had worked with Renzo Piano for the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-33-Michel-Denance-759x506 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© Michel Denancé

Renzo Piano began conceptualising this glittering structure twelve years ago – long before the global financial crisis hit – and compares his approach to the design process to the conducting of a large orchestra. During the press conference Piano referred to the ‘sound’ of The Shard, imploring the cluster of journalists to feel rather than see his latest masterpiece. He also drew links between the external façade of the structure and its place in London’s urban realm, terming the 95-storey tower ‘a mirror of London’. Piano explained that the facets of the building’s facade meant that its appearance on the skyline is ever-changing: like London, it is never remains the same. He concluded: “Up until now the building was ours; from tomorrow it is yours.”

Whilst the majority of Londoners have greeted the 310m tower with open arms, there are some that continue to battle its presence. Hours before yesterday’s press conference, UK newspaper The Guardian ran a comment piece by Simon Jenkins which labelled The Shard ‘an adjunct of Tony Blair’s foreign policy, a cure for erectile dysfunction’ and argued that the building ‘was pushed as a symbol of Britain’s love affair with financial bling at the turn of the 21st century, with ‘iconic’ celebrities and the eff-you greed of arbitrage’.

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-34-Michel-Denance-885x1200 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© Michel Denancé

Like any dramatic new architectural structure – a tall building in particular – The Shard has become a object for some journalists to attack with vehemence. A shining beacon in this turbulent economy, many have focused on the lack of confirmed commercial clients for the office spaces and the fact that the apartments at the top are yet to be put on the market. In response to these attacks, Irvine Sellar claims that he is being ‘extremely selective’ about the occupiers in the commercial space so as not to have a single overpowering tenant and that Sellar Group is ‘holding back [to] evaluate the impact of the building’ before putting the apartments up for sale. Whether buyers can be found for the highest residences in London remains to be seen.

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-31 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© The Shard

Renzo Piano Building Workshop:

The London Bridge Tower, also known as the Shard, is a 72-storey, mixed-use tower located beside London Bridge Station on the south bank of the river Thames. This project was a response to the urban vision of London Mayor Ken Livingstone and to his policy of encouraging high-density development at key transport nodes in London. This sort of sustainable urban extension relies on the proximity of public transportation, discourages car use and helps to reduce traffic congestion in the city.

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-08 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© The Shard

A mix of uses – residential, offices and retail – creates a building that is in use 24 hours a day. The slender, pyramidal form of the tower was determined by its suitability to this mix: large floor plates at the bottom for offices; restaurants, public spaces and a hotel located in the middle; private apartments at the top of the building. The final floors accommodate a public viewing gallery, 240 m above street level. This arrangement of functions also allows the tower to taper off and disappear into the sky, a particularly important detail for RPBW given the building’s prominence on the London skyline.

Eight sloping glass facades, the “shards”, define the shape and visual quality of the tower, fragmenting the scale of the building and reflecting the light in unpredictable ways. Opening vents in the gaps or “fractures” between the shards, provide natural ventilation to winter gardens.

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-09 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© The Shard

The extra-white glass used on the Shard gives the tower a lightness and a sensitivity to the changing sky around it, the Shard’s colour and mood are constantly changing. It required a particular technical solution to ensure the facade’s performance in terms of controlling light and heat. A double-skin, naturally ventilated facade with internal blinds that respond automatically to changes in light levels was developed. The logic is very simple: external blinds are very effective in keeping solar gain out of a building, but unprotected external blinds are not appropriate for a tall building, hence the extra layer of glass facade on the outside.

As part of the project, a section of London Bridge Station’s concourse was also redeveloped and the London Bridge Tower has been the stimulus for much of the regeneration of the surrounding area, now known as the London Bridge quarter.

The-Shard-London’s-Tallest-Tower-By-Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop-27-759x497 The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

© The Shard

Project Data:

Project name: The Shard
Alternative names: London Bridge Tower, The Shard at London Bridge
Location: 32 London Bridge Street, London, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51.504636, -0.086432
Type: Mix Use, Skyscraper
Program: Mix Use, residential-hotel-office
Height Architectural: 306.0 meter / 1004 feet

  • Occupied 244.3 meter / 802 feet
  • To Tip 306.0 meter / 1004 feet
  • Observatory: 244.3 meter / 802 feet

Floors Above Ground: 73
Floors Below Ground: 3
Number of Elevators: 39
Top Elevator Speed: 6 m/s
Tower GFA: 127,489 m² / 1,372,280 ft²
Number of Apartments: 10
Number of Hotel Rooms: 200
Proposed Year: 2000
Project Area: 127,489 m² / 1,372,280 ft²
Glass facade: 602,779 square feet *Weight: 18,000 tons.
Glass: 11,000 panes.
Construction Year: 2009 — 2012
Completion Year: 2012
Cost: £450,000,000
Visit The Shard’s Website: here


The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards)
World Architecture Festival Award 2011 – Category Winner: HOUSE
2011 Australian Institute of Architects Awards

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Sellar Property Group
Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop – Via Rubens 29, 16158 Genoa, Italy
Associate Architect: Tower – Adamson Associates, Station Concourse – Pascall + Watson, Office fit-out – Pringle Richards Sharratt , Landscape – Townshend
Partners in charge: Renzo Piano, Joost Moolhuijzen
Project Architect: William Matthews
London Bridge Quarter construction phase key team: Eileen Chen, Bart Akkerhuis, Giles Reid, Grant Bannatyne, Jack Carter, Etain Fitzpatrick
Structural Engineer: WSP Group
MEP Engineer: Arup
Cost Consultant: Davis Langdon
Contract administration: Turner & Townsend
General contractor: Mace
Text Description: © Courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop, jmhdezhdez, worldarchitecturenews.
Images: © sellardevelopments, Jason Hawkes, Rob Telford, Clifford Pearson, Michel Denancé, Michael Shellim


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The Shard London’s Tallest Tower / Renzo Piano Building Workshop
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