Is the Shard Worth the Cost?

The newest addition to London’s iconic skyline, the Shard was completed in 2013 and has immediately become and icon of our capital city. Standing on the southern bank of the River Thames, The Shard – now the tallest building in the European Union – dominates the London Bridge area and is a draw for tourists and locals alike.  But, is the Shard worth the cost?

PRO TIP: Don’t pay for a view from the Shard when there are great restaurants with a view as well as bars with a view.  A great view of London can also be had at the Monument for just £4, but you will need to climb some stairs.

Where is the Shard in London?

The Shard is located in Southwark, on the southern bank of the Thames.  The closest London Underground station is London Bridge (Jubilee and Northern lines).  It’s also just across the London Bridge from Monument (Circle and District lines).  We recommend using this link for directions to the Shard from anywhere in the London region.

Where is the Shard in London

 

Due to it’s relatively central location, the Shard is located nearby several popular London attractions including:

Visitor Information

Both restaurants and hotels are available for the public to visit. In addition, the top of the Shard holds an observation deck, open to ticket holding public.

Restaurant Information:

  • Aqua Shard –  Innovative contemporary British cuisine – www.the-shard.com/restaurants/aquashard
  • Hutong – Cuisines from Northern China – www.the-shard.com/restaurants/hutong
  • Oblix – Sophisticated urban casual dining – www.the-shard.com/restaurants/oblix
  • Ting – Modern European cuisine with an Asian twist – www.the-shard.com/restaurants/ting
  • Lang – Shangri-La’s signature café – www.the-shard.com/restaurants/lang
  • Gong – Cocktail bar – www.the-shard.com/restaurants/gong

Viewing Gallery:

Times:

  • APRIL TO END OCTOBER: Every Day 10am – 10pm
  • NOVEMBER TO END MARCH: Sunday to Wednesday 10am – 7pm / Thursday to Saturday 10am – 10pm

Ticket Prices:

  • IN ADVANCE: Adult – £24.95 / Student – £19.95 / Child 4 to 15 – £18.95
  • ON THE DAY: Adult – £29.95 / Student – £24.95 / Child 4 to 15 – £23.95

Tickets come with a WEATHER GUARANTEE that ensures if there is bad weather, you can rearrange your visit!

The Shard Info

Origins

Stemming from a UK government order encouraging development of tall buildings at major transport hubs, the Shard was initially proposed in the year 2000 by Italian architect Renzo Piano who sketched the design on the back of a restaurant menu.

Development plans were opposed by numerous bodies including the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, the Royal Parks Foundation, and English Heritage, unhappy with the potential change of the London skyline and restricted views. An inquiry was held and in November 2003 planning consent was approved by the then Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. The official government line was, “Mr Prescott would only approve skyscrapers of exceptional design. For a building of this size to be acceptable, the quality of its design is critical. He is satisfied that the proposed tower is of the highest architectural quality.”

Funding was difficult to find and it was not until 2007 that preparations for the demolition of the buildings on the proposed Shard site began…and not until 2008 that demolition actually went underway. By early 2009, the building site was clear and construction could begin.

Architecture and Naming

Renzo Piano, the Shard’s architect, designed the building to appear as a spire-like sculpture emerging from the River Thames. English Heritage had claimed the building would be, “a shard of glass through the heart of historic London” which, unfortunately for them, ultimately gave the building it’s now iconic name. Piano, on the other hand, felt the design would in fact recall the church steeples previously standing in London throughout its’ entire history. To placate those who felt the building would be huge and cumbersome, Piano planned sophisticated usage of glazing and angled panes of glass so that the building could delicately shine and change, according to the weather and time of day.

The Shard also took first place in the Emporis Skyscraper Awards – recognising only buildings over 100 metres and completed within the last 12 months of the award. The Shard was described as, “a skyscraper that is recognised immediately and which is already considered London’s new emblem.”

Tenancy

By 2013 developers of the Shard were in negotiations to secure the first tenants of the buildings 25 floors of office space. Today, The Shard is home to three restaurants: Oblix, Hutong and Aqua Shard, as well as the Shangri-La Hotel. Al Jazeera Media Network has a base in The Shard, as well as law firm Mathys & Squire and investment group Foresight. It was recently announced that Tiffany & Co. will also be moving to The Shard.

Issues with Public Exploration

In 2011 a group of trespassers, calling themselves “Place Hackers” managed to break through security and get to the top of the Shard’s building site. It was later revealed that this was, in fact, a popular path for other urban explorers to take and over 20 people had made their way to the top of the building during construction.

More than a dozen times, base jumpers have jumped from the top of the shard – and four jumps were undertaken by a single man, Essex roofer Dan Witchalls who filmed one of his jumps with a helmet-mounted camera.

Stats

  • Construction Started: March 2009
  • Construction Completed: July 2012
  • Opened: February 2013
  • Height: ROOF – 934ft (284.7m) ANTENNA SPIRE – 1,014ft (309m) – The Tallest Building in the E.U! (as of 2014)
  • Floor Count: 87
  • Floor Area: 1,2000,000sq.ft. (11,000sq.m.)
  • Lifts: 44
  • Panes of Glass: 11,000
  • Architect: Renzo Piano
  • Developer: Sellar Property Group
  • Main Constractor: Mace

 +++Don’t forget to check out our pay-what-you-like walking tours of London!+++

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