When the Shard opened in London in 2012 it did so to quite a fanfare, and to a rather damp squib (in my view) of a laser show. But despite the laser show disappointing, the tower never has. Although not to everyone’s taste (the fractured ‘shards’ at the top that give it its name divide opinion), I have always found it striking.
At 309.6 metres (1,016 feet) high, the Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom, and the seventh tallest in Europe. It has 72 floors and was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. He was inspired by the spires of London’s churches and the masts of the sailing ships that once frequented the Thames below. Its height is further emphasised by its location, on the south side of the river rather than in the City or Docklands, which between them have the greatest concentration of London skyscrapers.
Views of the Shard
In 2016 we finally got around to going up the tower. There are two ways to do this. You can book a table at one of several restaurants, although none of these are at the very top. Or you can book tickets for the View from the Shard, the viewing galleries on floors 68, 69 and 72. From there you are promised views for far as forty miles away, in good conditions.
But because you have to pre-book you take potluck with the weather. We arrived full of hope, on a crisp and sunny February afternoon. Our plan was to be up there for sunset, and we anticipated some stunning views. What we hadn’t counted on was London’s pollution, at its worst on days of high pressure in the atmosphere such as this. So although the views were amazing, they could have been so much better, as could the photos we took. Even cleaning them up a bit with Topaz AI Denoise and Sharpen couldn’t rescue them completely!
Nevertheless these images offer a different perspective on some of London’s iconic buildings, and I’m sharing them for Anne’s Lens Artists challenge this week.
In case you don’t believe me that the weather was fine, I’m starting with this image taken looking directly upwards from the 72nd floor outdoor viewing gallery!
Looking west with St Paul’s Cathedral on the right, Tate Modern on the left and the Millennium Bridge in the centre
The view towards the east, with Tower Bridge bottom left and the skyscrapers of Docklands in the distance
The view towards the east again, with Tower Bridge in the foreground and the skyscrapers of Docklands in the distance
Looking north towards the City with the so-called Cheesegrater in the foreground and Gherkin on the right
The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral with the Holy Sepulchre Church behind to the left
Tate Modern art gallery in a former power station, with Blackfriars road and rail bridges behind it
The BT Tower looms through the sunset pollution; this was London’s tallest building from 1964-1980
A closer look at the buildings of Docklands to the east, reflecting the sunset
Looking down at the traffic on London Bridge
Looking down at the Tower of London reflecting the sunset
Tower Bridge after sunset
The view towards the east again, after the sun had set
The photos of the views from the Shard were all taken in 2016, the others between 2012 and 2021