Whatever one may think of The Shard it does provide a unique understanding of London and its architecture. The View From The Shard, as the visitor experience is known, is a slick people moving operation that whisks you via two separate lifts to levels 68-72 without you really realising that you’ve travelled. Only when you arrive do you appreciate that this is the one place in London where nothing blocks the view. It’s also the only place in London where The Shard – the tallest building in Europe at 310m/1016ft – does not pierce the skyline.
The last time I remember anything comparable with the experience of The Shard was when, as a child, I was taken to the top of the what was then the Post Office Tower, now the BT Tower. At 177m/581ft it was, in the 1960s, the tallest building in London.
Yesterday was the first public opening of The View From The Shard and there were a good many architects and other building professionals amongst the visitors. This set me wondering how seeing London from this vantage point might change the way we deal with the architecture of the cityscape below. The roofs of London, like most major cities, are largely neglected, barren places where the paraphernalia required to maintain the mechanical and electrical services of buildings are lodged with little regard for design. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the legacy of The Shard was a greening of our city roofs or at least a better use of these forgotten acres?
Read my article on the sustainability of tall buildings here.