Completed just in time for London’s glorious golden Olympic summer, The Shard rises above the capital’s skyline like a knife slicing through the grey clouds, typical of the weather in December. Fog shrouds the 87th storey, whilst the glass panels below shine, catching the glimmers of hopeful sunlight that peek through the otherwise dim weather.
This modern spire has Renzo Piano to thank for its reverent shape; the architect, Piano, paid homage to the rail lines which run through Southwark as well as the traditional London steeples often depicted by Caneletto and with a deep dislike of skyscrapers, he envisioned a spire like sculpture emerging from the River Thames. Yet objections from English Heritage, gave birth to the structure’s name, ‘it will be but a glass shard cutting through the historic heart of London’. Of course, the Shard joins London’s current in vogue architectural style with the Gerkin a few doors down and the Onion, the Cheese grater and Walkie-talkie all in sight.
Now whether you are or are not a fan of the modern spire, as one packs into the high speed lift and experiences the normal churning sensation of travelling upwards too fast, one emerges to a panorama reminiscent of the opening credits of Disney‘s Mary Poppins; one expects Julie Andrews to float past one of the building’s 11,000 panes of glass on a cloud with the talking umbrella. St Paul’s dominates the view from the Shard Aqua restaurant, with Canary Wharf appearing above the clouds as depicted on many a London postcard, the faint outline of the Eye just visible to the west. The Shard Aqua provides a very atmospheric viewing platform with it laid back jazz, slightly shard-esque angular food and ambient lighting (and strangely attractive workforce).
London looks pretty ethereal at the best of times, but with twilight settling down and the fog slowly the tallest building in the EU, gives you a pretty unique view. But I’m told that the best view is from the gents!