The Shard dominates the London skyline. Renzo Piano, the architect, designed the Shard as a spire-like sculpture emerging from the river Thames. He was inspired by the railway lines next to the site, the London spires depicted by Canaletto and the masts of sailing ships. (What I really do in life is sailing', said Piano in relation to another project. 'The ingredients are the same in architecture: light and air and breeze'.)
Despite criticisms from various quarters who thought the building would be 'a shard of glass through the heart of historic London', Piano considered the slender, spire-like form of the skyscraper a positive addition to the London skyline, recalling the church steeples featured in historic engravings of the city and believed that its presence would be far more delicate than opponents of the project alleged. The sophisticated use of glazing with expressive facades of angled glass panes reflect sunlight and the sky above so that the appearance of the building changes according to the weather and seasons.
Situated in Southwark, the 95-storey skyscraper forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development. It stands 309.6 metres high and is the tallest building in the UK. It comprises apartments, a hotel, three restaurants, offices, part of the London Bridge Hospital and an Al Jazeera studio and newsroom. 'I was quite attracted by the idea of ... not really a tall guiding, but the idea of making a mixed-use tower - a vertical city', said Piano.
In July 2013 Greenpeace protesters climbed to the summit unfurling a flag with 'Save the Arctic' written on it.
We had the chance to see the Shard up close last weekend when we visited London for the second time this autumn. After wandering around the East End and paying a brief visit to Whitechapel Gallery, we went to Southward. Walking along St Thomas Street on our way to the White Cube gallery, we passed the Shard.
Then, later in the afternoon we saw the tip of it, all lit up, from the White Cube gallery
A little bit later, again, from St Thomas Street, on our way to catch our bus.