Tuesday, October 27, 2009

London's The Shard to be Europe's Tallest Building

Before the world saw the visual interpretation of the Dark Tower (otherwise known as Barad-dûr) in the Peter Jackson movie The Lord of the Rings based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy in 2001, Italian master architect Renzo Piano had already drawn up a sketch of his vision a year earlier in what will later become known as The Shard of Glass project for the city of London.

However, it took years of fund raising by UK developer The Sellar Property Group, backed by a consortium of four Qatari banks, to raise the GBP 2 billion capital required to build the 306-m tall tower, which when completed in 2012, will briefly hold boasting rights to Western Europe’s tallest building, and the new icon of London

Construction began early this year on the 72-storey mixed-used development, which will house premium office space, luxury residences, upscale restaurants, serviced luxury residences, and a 15-storey spire.

But Piano wasn’t inspired by The Lord of the Rings though – the Shard of Glass was Piano’s vision of a ‘City in the Sky’. Piano took cues from the spires of London’s churches and top sails of ships that used to moor on the Thames.

And there won’t be a fire-breathing monstrous eye at the top of the spire. Instead, a viewing platform, which is open to the public, occupies the top five floors of the Shard, and at twice the height of the London Eye, offers a breathtaking panorama of the city.

Beneath the viewing platforms, luxury residences, serviced by the Shangri-La Hotel & Resorts Group, occupy floors 53-65, while the hotel will also operate its first 5-star property in the UK from floors 34-52 with 195 rooms and suites.

Incidentally, the Shard will be the new home of the Transport for London, and stands above a major transport interchange, which includes a bus interchange, two main underground lines, and of course, London Bridge Station, one of London’s busiest railway stations.

When completed, the Shard at London Bridge Quarter will not only become a prestigious commercial and residential address, and key transport hub, it will also be the pride and joy of London.

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