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View From The Shard
April 8, 2012 2:30 PM   Subscribe

An urban explorer of Silent UK breaks into London's The Shard (pictures inside), the 310 meter high vertical city designed to be the highest building in Western Europe.
posted by Omnomnom (46 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
More place hacking
posted by Omnomnom at 2:31 PM on April 8, 2012


The British are building an arcology?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:34 PM on April 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think that's a new metafilter record, the site has been slashdotted in less than two comments....

Is slashdot still a verb?
posted by thewalrus at 2:35 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Shard? Why The Shard? Was Dystopian Social Commentary Bloodbath too long for print ads?
posted by The Whelk at 2:38 PM on April 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


Kilt.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:43 PM on April 8, 2012


Apparently it has a 5.2GB image link, so it would only take a couple of people clicking that to overload the server.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2012


I had fun poking around the gigapixel panorama.

I couldn't find a human being in the entire scene! I guess it was a pretty odd hour. Also, does no one in London turn their freaking lights off at night? Terrible, magnificent light pollution.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2012


The photo they show from the ground is very old (as in, a lot more of the building has been completed since then) and the Vimeo video is a year old - so I think these photos must be from about a year ago, when the concrete 'core' was finished. Still, nice photos and an amazing feat.
posted by memebake at 2:47 PM on April 8, 2012


London is a beautiful multicolored city when seen at night from above. So many cities I've seen from observation platforms and such have been pretty uniform looking, all the lights the same color or same genre of color. But the blues! and the greens! and yellows! and reds!

Really lovely. Interesting post. Of course, any vertical city named Shard Of Glass is going to make my brain think of Robert Silverberg.
posted by hippybear at 2:53 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had fun poking around the gigapixel panorama.

I couldn't find a human being in the entire scene! I guess it was a pretty odd hour.


Looks like I helped you kill the bandwidth (sorry everyone).

Yeah, I couldn't find any people there either. 4am on Sunday night or something? I would have still expected to see traffic on some of those bridges, people wandering the streets somewhere.

Great post, thanks Omnomnom.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:58 PM on April 8, 2012


lol "place hacking"
posted by nathancaswell at 3:06 PM on April 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, wow. Ten years younger, and a career more forgiving of trespass, I would be all over hijinx like this. Well done, brave strangers!
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:16 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The Shard" sounds like an obscure Dr. Who villainous alien race. They might well look like pointy crystalline things. I think the BBC has gone a bit overboard with this latest promotion.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:25 PM on April 8, 2012


"The Shard"? Looks and sounds like an unused Mass Effect concept. Maybe EA will make it part of the ending to ME3 if they're not just teasing about fixing it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:34 PM on April 8, 2012


That gigapixel pic is mighty impressive.
posted by thecjm at 3:34 PM on April 8, 2012


I couldn't find a human being in the entire scene! I guess it was a pretty odd hour.

Its a long-exposure photo (look at the headlight streaks around London Bridge). People would only show up if they were well lit and standing very still. Or if they had headlights.
posted by memebake at 3:39 PM on April 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


lol people going "outside"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:42 PM on April 8, 2012


Not sure who's crazier: the people who climbed that thing, or the ones who designed it. Wonder if the name was inspired by Sliver?
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 3:43 PM on April 8, 2012


His deeds and his opening commentary wonderfully show the odd lovehate feelings that many (or so it seems) English people have with skyscrapers. They're nowhere near as common as in some countries, yet they're both respected for the great undertakings they are, but rejected for the impact they have on their surroundings. It's like folk want to say, "skyscrapers? of course we can, but we'd rather not."
posted by Jehan at 3:46 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would have gone in with reflective vests, hardhats and maybe a few guys with clipboards. Nobody would have blinked.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:47 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wonder if the name was inspired by Sliver?

Heavens, I hope not. That is a connection that cries out neither good taste nor success....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:48 PM on April 8, 2012


Great cityscape. I wonder what happened to the guy they caught?
posted by arcticseal at 3:49 PM on April 8, 2012


It's good to see the city looking toward the future; now that they won the Olympic bid, the next goal seems to be the bid to become City 17.
posted by chambers at 4:13 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing like publicly justifying the British police state, sigh
posted by NiteMayr at 4:19 PM on April 8, 2012


Don't think "the Shard" is its official name, although Renzo Piano nicknamed it thus citation needed. I worked in Southwark for a while and it's got to be said that there isn't much around to make up for it. High rise buildings are either concentrated in the city or around Canary Wharf. It was decried long before it was completed but I'm sure it's going to become a quintessential London landmark just as the London Eye or the O2.
posted by surrendering monkey at 4:29 PM on April 8, 2012


I'd love if this was where the name comes from (it's a real sonuvabitch of a level).
posted by timetoevolve at 4:56 PM on April 8, 2012


Shard worker here (long time lurker, borrowed account thanks real tarium!). While the photos are amazing, the live building site is a dangerous place full of temporary structures and the contractor and client go to a lot of effort to prevent access like this being possible for good reasons. Particularly dangerous was the top of the concrete core where it seems a lot of the pics were taken.

Now that it is visible all over the city everyone asks the statistics about it, how high is the crane etc, but in my opinion the most interesting thing about the project is not the building itself but the location and what it represents.

The Shard building is set by London Bridge on the south side of the Thames river, and so just outside the traditional ‘City of London’ finance area which was historically home to the big city buildings and commercial centres. The ‘City’ however was constrained by the traditional City planning system and street layout and in particular the St Pauls heights corridor. This is a series of maximum permitted heights for new developments, it was designed in the 1930s to protect particular views of the cathedral around the capital from being eroded by these new fangled tall buildings. The result was that although City buildings were often of very high architectural standards (e.g. the Lloyds of London ‘inside out’ building) they were tightly constrained by strange plot sizes and maximum heights.

In the late 80s and then throughout the 90s Canary Wharf came on to the scene, a purpose built office centre on the disused docks outside the main London centre. This had no real development limitations on size and shape, and so became a forest of sky high cost efficient big floor plate extruded boxes, which to my mind don’t have the uniqueness, charm and detail of the City buildings.

You can then see the central City resurgence following the Wharf’s establishment, which you could say was typified by Foster’s ‘Gherkin’ building at 30 St Mary Axe. It’s a beautiful and innovative building, but by world standards nowhere near tall, it stands at 180m vs the then current tallest in the world of 500m+. The City buildings are still quite restricted in that they need to fit within the surroundings of small and low buildings.

You then get to the Shard, which is currently nearing completion in a physical location between the City and the Wharf, that also architecturally sits nicely between these. It puts together the quirkiness and uniqueness in the traditions of the best City architecture on a grand unfettered scale that previously you could only see in London at Canary Wharf. You literally can’t get higher before you interfere with the planes trying to land at the City of London airport.

(There is then a separate argument about whether it is the right scale for the London Bridge area, which previously was best known for the most depressing train station in London and slightly seedy tourist attractions. But I think the massive improvements to London Bridge Station that are part of the development have gone a long way to helping this at ground level)
posted by thetarium at 5:13 PM on April 8, 2012 [25 favorites]


There something sort of sad about these ancient cities that, having lasted this long without truly towering skyscrapers, finally getting one. The view from the top seems stolen.
But whatever, it's a cool building, and I'm an American and I love huge things.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 5:23 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


the most depressing train station in London

Lost sequence from Trainspotting?

thetarium, thanks for that great explication of London urban design. I will say that, as much as I've tried from here in the US (but watching a lot of TV and movies set there, such as Sherlock) to master a mind's eye view of the place, I always seem to get turned around somehow -- I think it's the squirly wet thing in the middle that throws me. Anyway, regarding

Foster’s ‘Gherkin’ building at 30 St Mary Axe

as an outsider I only recently understood why it was able to be built where it was -- the tragic 1993 bombing of the Baltic Exchange by the IRA.
posted by dhartung at 5:45 PM on April 8, 2012


Stonestock Relentless: "But whatever, it's a cool building, and I'm an American and I love huge things."

Derail: I'm quite fond of DC's height limit. Even in spite of plenty of vacant/underutilized land to build on, developers keep insisting that we need to go taller. Personally, I'm a very big fan of our medium-density, low-rise city.
posted by schmod at 7:14 PM on April 8, 2012


Lost me in the first couple of pages or so with the rant about art.
posted by Foosnark at 7:35 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The fact that the first comment begins with the words "Otter you weapon" put me horribly in mind of Nathan Barley. Good post, good pics, utter "weapon".
posted by howfar at 7:45 PM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not sure why I'm supposed to care that he doesn't get Tracey Emin. Usually people proud of rejecting entire modes and time periods of artistic communication don't really have much to say that I want to hear.
posted by cmoj at 7:54 PM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The British are building an arcology?

I can't speak for the English, but the Scots aren't
posted by mattoxic at 3:02 AM on April 9, 2012


Classic Example of a Crazy Person.
posted by Splunge at 3:07 AM on April 9, 2012


I'm delighted thetarium popped in here with that comment! Thank you!
I'd been trying to articulate why I love the Shard and indeed the Gherkin to some more architecturally conservative friends but lacked the perspective you gave.

I pass it about three times a week on my commute into Charing Cross and it's a thrill each time. (I'll give a metafilter wave/silent shout-out to thetarium from now on). Any idea when the new cladding of Guy's goes on and what it might look like? Guy's is starting to look like a real eyesore now. Is there any communication between the teams?
posted by Wilder at 3:38 AM on April 9, 2012


as much as I've tried from here in the US (but watching a lot of TV and movies set there, such as Sherlock) to master a mind's eye view of the place, I always seem to get turned around somehow

For one thing, whenever I see a film set in London, I play a game called "You Can't Get There From There!". I think Sherlock is a bit better.

Another thing is the river - even after over twenty years living here (and another ten hanging out here a lot) the fact that the physical reality of the river twists what I think are straight lines into curves, so that landmarks pop up just where I don't expect them to confuses me all the time.

Another thing on top of that is that London isn't totally chaotic, but has grown up around an ad hoc radial structure rather than a planned grid system. Where I live is at the centre of one of these radial clusters, so when I go out walking I go along one or other of the arterial routes until I get to the area I'm trying to reach. If you're trying to move laterally or vertically across the structure, I can see that it might look irrational.

As for the Shard - with all due respect to friendofthetarium - I find it an intimidating presence, partly because it signifies the way that wealth is methodically stripping the character (and the less-than-wealthy like me) out of areas of London like mine; partly because although its physically located in my area, it seems that it will be totally sealed off - attached to SE1 rather than a part of it. It also looks a bit like a prison watchtower.

In that way it represents to me the way that the politicians of all parties have essentially sold out to the hyper-rich of other countries and are serving Britain (and London in particular) up on a plate for them. Possibly not entirely fair, but if you're going to go iconic, you don't really control how the icon works. Interesting to read that all the businesses that occupy it will have to be Sharia-friendly.

As I've been reading a bit of Richard Heinberg and John Michael Greer recently, I also wonder what will happen to it when the oil prices go really stratospheric.
posted by Grangousier at 3:41 AM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


As I've been reading a bit of Richard Heinberg and John Michael Greer recently, I also wonder what will happen to it when the oil prices go really stratospheric.

Oil prices can only go so high before people switch to alternatives
posted by delmoi at 4:31 AM on April 9, 2012


Interesting to read that all the businesses that occupy it will have to be Sharia-friendly.

Pamela Gellar types must be freaking out. Obviously those terrorists are just building it so they can knock it down!
posted by delmoi at 4:34 AM on April 9, 2012


I work at Guy's and, all due respect to thetarium, but The Shard is as transparent a work of evil as I've ever encountered. They've already destroyed the footbridge between London Bridge station and the hospital, which made it much quicker and easier for patients and staff to get in, because it didn't fit in with their corporate image. I think when you get to a point where sleek lines mean more to you than the fact that an elderly dialysis patient now has a long and exhausting walk to get to their appointment, you should think very hard about what kind of city you really want to build.
posted by Acheman at 11:19 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


For one thing, whenever I see a film set in London, I play a game called "You Can't Get There From There!".

You can't get there from here. Have to go somewhere else first. /firesigntheatre
posted by hippybear at 8:49 PM on April 9, 2012


schmod: "Derail: I'm quite fond of DC's height limit. Even in spite of plenty of vacant/underutilized land to build on, developers keep insisting that we need to go taller."

Matthew Yglesias has had some interesting writing on the problems of the height limit.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:09 AM on April 10, 2012


Chrysostom: "Matthew Yglesias has had some interesting writing on the problems of the height limit."

Yeah. A lot of people feel really passionately about the height limit, one way or the other, and Yglesias is definitely in that camp. Although I respect his stance, I feel like it's one of his more poorly-thought-out positions.

He turns a blind eye to the fact that zoning, not the height limit, restricts development in most parts of DC, that DC still has a lot of empty land to build on, and that nearby jurisdictions without height limits such as Rosslyn and Silver Spring have either failed to capitalize on their ability to construct tall buildings, or have constructed tall buildings that have actually detracted from the urban fabric of their surroundings (ie. the developers built a tall building so that they had more room left over for a parking lot).

Yglesias seems to be in denial about the fact that the "towers in the park" paradigm never really panned out. Stuy Town in NYC is literally the only example I can think of where it's worked well; most other attempts to build to that model failed spectacularly. Low-rise buildings encourage a contiguous urban fabric on the street level, and I think that this is more important than forcing super-high density by building skyscrapers, which tend to create "islands" of activity with large dead zones.

My thought is that DC should write better zoning laws (they're working on it; Harriet Tregoning is great), and push up the height limit by 3-4 floors, coupled with more strict setback and mixed-use requirements. Of course, nobody seems interested in such a moderate approach.
posted by schmod at 10:37 AM on April 10, 2012


I thought the footbridge was only temporarily closed! Ouch, (sorry, I still love the structure, I close my eyes and see a sci-fi world, probabaly just me though).
posted by Wilder at 12:18 PM on April 10, 2012


Yeah, I'm not sure Yglesias has fully thought out everything there, schmod (which, I suppose, is a hallmark of his). I will say his Height Act critique is a piece of larger zoning critiques, including mandatory parking setasides, excessive NIMBYism, etc.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:59 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


sold out to the hyper-rich of other countries and are serving Britain (and London in particular) up on a plate for them.

The hyper-rich of other countries are surely no more distasteful than the home-grown variety. A multimillionaire old-Etonian with a brown skin and a Saudi passport has plenty in common with David Cameron. Neither of them have anything important in common with me or a normal British Muslim. More generally, though, the class interest of the wealthy is, like their capital, legally and factually internationalised and has been for a very long time (Royal Family anyone?). The notion of selling out to the hyper-rich of other countries neglects the fact that countries are something that only exist for proles like me and you.
posted by howfar at 8:03 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


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