As you will doubtless be aware by now, the official opening of Renzo Piano’s latest contribution to London’s skyline, The Shard, is rapidly approaching. The 309.6m-high tower is being sold as a ‘vertical town’ in the heart of England’s capital, rising sharply above London Bridge Station into a series of raw points which don’t quite meet.
In preparation of the grand opening of The View from The Shard - sky-high observation galleries on the building’s 68th-72nd floors - developer Sellar Property Group and London Bridge Quarter have released a series of astounding images taken from the long-awaited viewing platform. It is imagined that The View from The Shard will become one of the city’s greatest tourist attractions with visitors enjoying 360 degree views stretching 40 miles.
Renzo Piano was not only responsible for the external design of The Shard but also, to an extent, for the internal exhibition. He explains: “London is a city of inspiration and imagination. When we designed The Shard, a viewing gallery was part of our thinking right from the start.
“We wanted to create a public space where people could visit the building to experience London in a different way and also feel that they have discovered the spirit of the building. Level 72 is a wonderful example of this: in the open air on the highest habitable floor, you are surrounded by the shards of glass as well as the sights, sounds, elements and atmosphere of the city below. On top of the city, but also within in.”
It is this uppermost point of The View from The Shard that will offer the most thrilling experience of all. Partially open to the elements and three storeys above the standard viewing platform, level 72 is the ultimate opportunity for Londoners and tourists to take in every element of the city from a single point.
The View from The Shard is not confined to the actual viewing platforms on levels 68 to 72. The experience begins in the ground floor galleries where ‘tongue in cheek’ pictorials of famous Londoners coat the walls. Animated maps and video screens educate visitors on lesser-known elements of London life and the history of London Bridge throughout their walk to the four lifts which will transport them to the main viewing platforms.
Designed by WAN AWARDS winners Kone, the lifts in The Shard are state-of-the-art systems which can make the journey from level 00 to level 68 in 60 just 60 seconds, travelling at 6m per second. For the first stage of the journey, video screens in the ceiling of the lift systems create the effect of soaring through some of the most highly recognisable ceilings in London, from the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral to the spiral staircase at Monument and the British Museum’s Great Court glass roof.
After a short stop at level 33 for a further educational experience through a graffiti-decorated space, visitors will take another lift to level 68 and the main viewing gallery at level 69. Triple-height and light-rich, the level 69 viewing gallery provides an exceptional vantage point for the city of London. Digital telescopes called ‘Tell:scopes’ can be found here (for the first time in Europe) and help users to identify more than 200 famous landmarks with information in over 10 languages. Book your tickets now as they’re selling out fast!
Tickets cost £24.95 for adults and £18.95 for children and free WiFi is available so that visitors can tweet, share pictures and upload details of their perceptions of the experience. The View will be open from 09.00am to 22.00pm daily to enable guests to enjoy the city by day or night.