Reaching far into the sky above London Bridge, this phenomenal structure, clad in glass, stands proudly over it’s surrounding smaller counterparts. Known as the Shard London Bridge, at 310 metres (1016 feet) high, it now ranks as the tallest building in western Europe.
The approach to the Shard over London Bridge from the Monument on the north side of the Thames, is simply spectacular. Glimpses of the upper sections of the pinnacle shaped Shard are visible from many areas around London making this beautiful building awesome. Like a giant dwarfing all around itself, you literally cannot miss the Shard.
With an idea first thought of by property developer Irvine Sellar, a draught design was sketched out over lunch, back at the turn of this century, on a table napkin, by the celebrated Genovese architect, Renzo Piano.
Due to the nature and close proximity of the site to adjacent buildings the development, from start to finish, has needed considerable expertise unseen in previous projects. To say it was difficult is an understatement.
The demolition of the existing 24 storey building, Southwark Towers, had to be cleared to make way for development of the Shard and took ten months of careful work alone. It could not be blown up as is often done with similar buildings and had to be demolished floor by floor. The floors had to be broken up section by section by using small controlled explosive devices implanted into holes drilled into the concrete.
Construction of the new building involved extensive excavation and substantial pile driving to 50 metres below ground level. To ensure the construction work could be completed as speedily as possible, work started simultaneously with the construction of the concrete central core together with excavation of the outer sections of the Shard which also needed an extensive number of deep pilings.
Constructing one floor at a time, the centre core grew to around the thirtieth floor, which was determined to be the greatest height possible on the central core foundations alone. Any higher and the building could collapse as the foundations could break up because of over loading.
All efforts were then transferred to concentrate on the completion of the outer foundations which are needed to support the vast weight of the building by spreading the load over a larger area of foundation.
Amongst other problems encountered at this critical stage, serious water seepage from the Thames was an issue which had to be overcome in this operation.
The demanding construction schedule required workers to build a new floor every seven days. The build has used 100,000 tonnes of concrete, 11,468 glass panels, a spire made of 500 tonnes of steel and the UK’s tallest ever crane.
Once completed, this 1016 foot vertical city will incorporate office space on floors 4 to 28, the highest residential apartments in the UK with unrestricted views, 5 star Shangri-La Hotel with 200 luxurious rooms and restaurants over three floors.
There are viewing galleries which are open to the public from February 2013 when those brave enough to ascend this formidable building will be able to view the surrounding area from the highest of high vantage point in London.