Construction has begun on the Shard, a skyscraper that will be the tallest building in Western Europe and will provide amazing views of London. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop (who was also responsible for the California Academy of Sciences), the Shard was inspired by towering church spires and the masts of ships that once anchored on the Thames. The new mixed-use development is located in the heart of London Bridge Quarter and will sit adjacent to the London Bridge Station, one of the busiest train stations in London.
The 72-storey building in the London Bridge Quarter will contain premium office space, a world-class hotel, luxury residences, a spa, restaurants & cafes, retail space and a 15-storey public viewing gallery. On the ground level, public piazza, restaurants and cafes will be open to the public with places to rest and changing art installations. Access to public transportation via bus line, train and underground will be directly on site. Previously at that location was the 1970’s Southwark Tower building on Bridge Street, which has already been demolished to begin construction on the new tower.
Renzo envisioned The Shard as a ‘Vertical City‘ – a mixed-use and dense development open and accessible to the public and yet luxurious , exclusive, and central enough to be a highly desirable address for companies and residents. The Shangri-La hotel group has already claimed the hotel space from floors 34-52. The office spaces were first devised by Renzo Piano for his Aurora Place skyscraper in Sydney, Australia. Each floor is multifunctional and contains 2 winter garden, which are naturally ventilated break-out and meeting areas surround in glass for stunning views and natural lighting.
The structure itself is made up of multiple facets of glass which narrow into a point at the top, but do not touch. The concept was generated by the irregular site plan, and the open top allows the building to breath naturally. At 306 meters (1,016 feet) the tower is surely to become a beacon for the city and a strong and vital center for commerce and travel. The Shard at London Bridge Station and is due for completion in 2012.