Last night, I watched lasers and searchlights shooting out across London’s sky from the top of its newest landmark, the Shard. They’re getting ready for the big launch tonight, to celebrate the completion of the outer structure of Europe’s tallest building.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra will entertain guests including the Prime Minister of Qatar and The Duke of York with renditions of Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and the finale of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. In last night’s storm-swept sunset, it became apparent how the Shard works. Each side reflects the sky in a different wash of light. For the first time, I found myself liking the building. Fortunately, I’m on the other side of the Thames; up close, it dominates an entire area.
There’s certainly no avoiding the thing, as it has changed London’s skyline forever. But I agree with many Londoners that it is in the wrong place, because skyscrapers are usually confined to one district, and this opens up a potential wall of glass throughout the South side of London.I find it interesting that the Gherkin was loved by almost everyone from the start, but the Shard is proving divisive.
However, there are much worse buildings in London. London’s Strata tower won the Carbuncle Cup after being voted Britain’s ugliest new building; the 42-storey monstrosity in Elephant & Castle was nominated for its ‘plain visual grotesqueness’, ‘breakfast-extracting design’ and ‘Philishave stylings’. Its much-touted green turbines turned into a public joke after it was discovered that they’re never turned on because residents complain of the vibration and noise levels.