Sites For Sore Eyes


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.

8 comments on “Sites For Sore Eyes”

  1. Wayne says:

    25 UKP to go up the top and have a look at London from the top of the Shard…. I ask you who has that kind of money to spend on such a thing….. Oh yeah Lots of people.

  2. admin says:

    Does that make it the most expensive tall-building trip in the world, I wonder?

  3. NB says:

    With regards to the Strata Tower there are some people that believe the design, which appears in many Cities throughout the World depicts an Owl, the sign of Free Masonary. Alexander The Great was believed to be a founding Father, and the Owl was the symbol of Athens and appeared on their coins.Just a bit of trivia for you.

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    I can’t decide if it looks like something that’s grown up next to a thermal vent in the Challenger Deep or a baby star creature that’s fallen out of the sky and is looking longingly up for Mum to appear.

  5. Martin Gore says:

    I call it the Beard Trimmer. It is just hideous. The Shard is growing on me too. Really want to go up but £25? Flippin’ ‘eck. (is that correct apostrophe use? I hope so!)

  6. Helen Martin says:

    This Strata thing is truly misplaced. It does look more like an ugly growth than a building. At least living inside would mean you didn’t have to look at it. I’ll have to look for a picture of the Shard to see it again.

  7. Clarissa says:

    It costs almost exactly the same as the new Tokyo Sky Tree (though that’s in stages — 2000-2500 JPY for most of the way, and another 1000 JPY for the final stage). Good grief.

  8. Helen Martin says:

    Nice article in the Victoria Times Colonist (Victoria, B.C. Canada)today, found while looking for the Shard. Local council estate manager quoted as saying (in summary)that it just rubs the locals nose in the fact of their own joblessness. I don’t think I would warm to that structure. My understanding of the underpinnings of London is that it isn’t exactly rock hard and I wouldn’t want to be the one putting something as tall and narrow as that on a small piece of ground. I could be wrong, of course.

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