The most beautiful building on London’s skyline, The Shard, with its spectacular views, is home to spacious offices, award-winning restaurants and a fabulous fivestar hotel – plus the highest viewing gallery in Britain. The tallest building in Western Europe, it is a ‘vertical city’ which thousands of people work in and enjoy – and where millions can come and soak up the glorious 360-degree panorama for up to 40 miles. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Thames Estuary, where the river meets the sea.
Opened to the public in 2013, this ambitious monument was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, whose vision was a building of ‘lightness and transparency’. He took inspiration from the spires of London churches and the masts of tall ships depicted by the 18th century Venetian painter Canaletto to create this dramatic sculpture emerging from the River Thames. It’s ever-changing play of light, due to the weather and different seasons, across the impressive eight glass façades, adds to its awe.
As such an integral part of London, it is no surprise that The Shard acted as a beacon of hope across the city during the pandemic. The building lit up blue in solidarity with the NHS staff and key workers, while also dazzling blue to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the NHS in July 2020. The Shard Lights 2021 – centred around a theme of ‘Togetherness’ – at Christmas were switched on by representatives from the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service. The View from The Shard partnered with the Blue Light Card to bring family fun to those in the emergency services, from face painting to balloon modelling.
Throughout October 2021, the Shangri-La Hotel supported Breast Cancer Awareness month, launching with a special evening featuring The Shard lit up pink. The hotel offered a pink-themed afternoon tea, too, with a percentage of proceeds going towards Guy’s Cancer Centre while Aqua Shard served a Peter Pan-themed afternoon tea in support of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. Furthermore, The Shard introduced a charity initiative, working in partnership with Team London Bridge, to facilitate Gift Back 2021, with office workers invited to donate a gift to a range of charities.
In recent years, The Shard has featured in London’s New Year’s Eve countdown, as well as marking the country’s significant moments, with the building illuminated in the colours of the England flag in a show of support for the England men’s football team ahead of the Euro 2020 final. Alongside these stunning lighting displays, the building has seen the launch of a new sculptural installation for the London Bridge community by world-renowned Spanish sculptor, Jaume Plensa. ‘WE’ comprises two striking sculptures facing each other, as if in dialogue, celebrating the diversity of London.
As The Shard continues its lofty reign over the city of London, this architectural icon triumphs in its vibrant, innovative and intelligent approach towards the metropolis below. As the late Irvine Sellar, developer and joint owner of The Shard, put it: ‘Today, The Shard is a living, dynamic building, full of energy and a beacon for modern London.’