The Shard The dictionary defines it as “a broken piece of a brittle artifact” and we call it a mind-blowing architectural masterpiece, the new monumental signature of London, the conception of a genius, delicately crafted and poetically christened, The Shard. Sky scrapers are known to be the symbol of modern city for a few centuries and The London Shard – known to be the tallest building in Western Europe stands proudly at 310 meters tall with 95 floors of city life i. e. shops, offices, restaurants, hotels and apartments and a public viewing platform all compacted in one structure.
Being a Londoner the trip to the Shard did not excite me much as it was a part of my everyday travel. But this visit gave me the chance to look at it at depth. Coming closer to it I felt belittled by this structure that I ignored. It made me wonder in awe what it felt like to be a part of this mega structure. A very interesting part of the Shard, as observed from our field trip visit, is the tower’s attachment to the London Bridge Train and Bus Stations, which as a result, the stations have been radically refurbished to attain their aesthetic touchstone. We also gathered that the cost of refurbishment of the stations was borne by the Shard. This is my vision: I foresee the London Bridge Quarter as a vertical city for thousands of people to work in and enjoy, for hundreds of thousands more to commute to from all over the region, and for millions to take to their hearts” – Renzo Piano. However when making a closer observation it has been observed that the situation of the building is in an awkward position even though it is an architecture master piece, It does not suit in its position as it is surrounded by old buildings, terrace houses and old road side shops with very traditional coffee shops , book shops.
London is well known for its heritage sites and the antique looks but unfortunately the London shard spoils the consistence that the city had. There are mixed peoples points of view about this mega structures. As we moved around, the Shard, we sought opinions from ten randomly picked individuals, whom we found on and around St Thomas Street and one thing was strikingly remarkable in all responses elicited from the ten respondents. With tacit excitement, they all expressed their acknowledgement of the beautiful structure but three out of all ten respondents, in spite of acknowledging its beauty still maintained their isapproval for its location. An eleventh passer-by saw us while we were attempting to get some good snapshots of the structure and requested us to, with his camera, help take a snapshot of him with the building such that the structure will be visible on the background and we obliged him. His disposition towards the structure was revealing enough of his thoughts and we didn’t bother questioning him. Just as its overbearing presence on the London skyline it has tried to make its mark on some of the burning issues of the modern society such as enviormental effects, energy crisis and the societal impact of it.
The Shard did not just want to make its place as an object of power by standing tall, it did not want to just be an object of aesthetic but it also wanted to fulfil its responsibility to the environment by making sure that 95% of the construction materials are recycled and 20% of all the steelwork is from recycled sources. The Shard also maintains its reputation regarding its environmental impact by maintaining the highest levels of energy efficiency. The building is fitted with a natural gas-fuelled combined heat & power plant.
It was after the visit that I found out that its generators are located in the basement of the building and are housed in acoustic enclosures to avoid sound pollution from the engines. The gas engines have very low Nitrogen Oxide emissions again fulfilling the responsibility of achieving strict air quality requirements of the capital. This power plant has not only made the Shard Self Sufficient in its energy resource but has also been able to provide with energy to some of its surrounding buildings too. This helps to reduce carbon emissions hence lowering the carbon footprint of the building.
Triple glazed glass, colourless coating to reduce infra red emission, computer controlled roller blinds which are built into the glass – causing a 95% reduction in solar radiation. Truly this building seems to have made use of every modern facility inorder to be considered a energy efficient, self sufficient building. The societal impact of the Shard is evident in its shape which is a tapering one inorder to minimise the influential shadow over neighbouring buildings. Its presence seems to be the trendsetter to its surrounding buildings and structures. A very interesting part of the Shard, as observed from our field trip visit, is the tower’s attachment to the London Bridge Train and Bus Stations, which as a result, the stations have been radically refurbished to attain their aesthetic touchstone. We also gathered that the cost of refurbishment of the stations was borne by the Shard. “This is my vision: I foresee the London Bridge Quarter as a vertical city for thousands of people to work in and enjoy, for hundreds of thousands more to commute to from all over the region, and for millions to take to their hearts” – Renzo Piano.
It has been reported that “One of those aims is to make sure that we offer people who live in Southwark the opportunity of working within this new environment. ” The Economical impact is definitely something that has to be touched upon. London shard has helped to bring foreign investments to uk . It also created jobs for the local community like jobs in security engineering administration. It brought in remittance. London shard is also the new icon of United Kingdom which is attracting a lot of tourists.
These new tourist is also helping the local business to strive as these tourist not only visits the London . shard they also do shopping in the local area . The multi function building is also equipped with a hotel which again attracts rich tourists to stay in the area. Another aspect that is unique about the financial aspect of The Shard is that it has used a fairly non contemporary means of financing which is the Islamic means of Financing that is Sharia compliant. This means ther is no investments or money made through interest payments, the tower’s tenants are subject to certain conditions.
Needless to say The Shard has evoked immense controversies almost as if itis a sore thumb some times sticking out. Oppositely, along come the right-wingers, like Simon Jenkins, the chairman of the National Trust, which works to preserve and protect the coastline, countryside and buildings of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Christopher Caldwell, who wrote the book names ”Reflections on the Revolution”, in Europe has been accused of stoking Islamophobia, or what the Guardian refers to as a “culture of fear”.
Basically, people can guess what they will say without reading their paragraphs. “The Shard is the biggest intrusion on London’s skyline since St Paul’s Cathedral“. “It was financed by Qatari money and designed by an Italian architect”“That is why skyscrapers arose in the New World; they are substitute for not having produced…Shakespeare, for the matter. ”Wow! These pompous words are talking about London, where lives one-third foreign-born at present. These strong, personal points of views, remind us a famous saying, “We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we see. There is no overemphasis in bringing to bare the case of the Eiffel Tower of Paris, “As the tallest building in Europe, it dwarfs the others in the capital. Its distinctive style stands at odds with the historical buildings in the city centre. Prominent writers complained about its construction but the city’s inhabitants have generally come to love it. This description is not of London’s Shard, but of the Eiffel Tower. When it was opened in 1889 it was far more radical for its time than the Shard is today. Nothing like it, in stature or in its revolutionary iron construction had ever built before.
Yet it quickly became the iconic symbol of Paris. ” – Daniel Ben-Ami, Guardian. co. uk, 2012. The world’s tallest manmade structure, the 829m tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai was not exempted from critical and judgmental publicity when it was still under construction but today, one could hardly imagine a Dubai without its grandeur symbolism. Likewise is the case of the Rockefeller Centre that readily stamps its architectural impetus and recognition in the metropolis of Manhattan. “Rockefeller Centre in no way contested the established institutions or the current dynamics of the city.
Indeed, it took its place in Manhattan as an island of ‘equilibrated speculation’ and emphasized in every way its character as a closed and circumscribed intervention, which nevertheless purported to serve as a model”. – Jameson’s The Brick and the Balloon: Architecture, Idealism and Land Speculation, 1998. In conclusion, it is pertinent to note from history that the same contentious features of all similar architectural masterpieces of the past have always turned around to stand them out as beacons of identity for the cities in which they have been erected – this, we perceive, shall soon become the case of the Shard if it hasn’t already.