Changing London Skyline

Whilst many construction projects are being scrapped or put on hold in the current economic climate, two major developments in London are going ahead which will have significant additions to the city's skyline. Shard London Bridge and Heron Tower have been vying for the title of London's tallest building. We examine the two new giants…

Whilst many construction projects are being scrapped or put on hold in the current economic climate, two major developments in London are going ahead which will have significant additions to the city's skyline. Shard London Bridge and Heron Tower have been vying for the title of London's tallest building.

We examine the two new giants on the London skyline and their progress to date

Shard London Bridge …

Shard London Bridge, which was previously known by various names including 'The Shard' and 'London Bridge Tower', will be the tallest building in the EU when it is completed in 2012. It was originally planned as the tallest in Europe but has distinctly been overtaken by two Moscow skyscrapers.

Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, who is best known for designing the Pompidou Center in Paris, the building will be 1,017 feet (310 meters) tall with 72 floors plus 15 radiator floors in the roof. It will be a mixed-use development with the lobby occupying the first three levels, office space from floors 4-28, a hotel on floors 31-50 and residential apartments at floors 53-65. Floors 31-33 will be occupied by restaurants and a viewing gallery, with a spa on floor 52 and a further viewing gallery and open-air observation decks on floors 64-72. Floors 75-87 will form a spire that will accommodate the radiator panels.

The whole building has an irregular triangular shape and will be clad entirely in glass with a ventilated double skin façade. This is intended to provide the maximum amount of natural daylight and reduce heat gain for maximum comfort levels. Excess heat from the offices will heat the hotel and apartments or be dissipated through the radiator floors.

Shard London Bridge was designed in 2000 and was subject to a public inquiry in 2002 after opposition from local authorities and heritage bodies. It was eventually approved in 2003 and an interim financing package was secured in 2006, although the financial problems of 2008 threatened the project before Qatari investors took control.

Demolition of Southwark Towers, which the Shard sacrifices, started in 2008 and was completed in 2009, with site preparation then beginning. Building contractor Mace won the construction contract for a maximum fixed price of £ 350 million, although this was significantly increased by £ 85 million. Construction began in March 2009 and by November 2010, the building had passed the 235-meter mark, making it Britain's tallest building.

The building's location, next to London Bridge railway station, has presented logistic problems. Demolishing the existing Southwark Towers required tying back and stabilizing other structures before this could start. Additionally, the construction of the foundations required a 5,500 cubic meter concrete pour, with 700 truckloads coming in over a 36-hour period at a weekend while traffic was quieter.

Heron Tower …

Heron Tower began development earlier than the Shard, with full construction starting in April 2008 and structural completion occurring in April 2010. Like the Shard, however, it was the subject of a public inquiry, with heritage groups objecting to the construction of a skyscraper close to St. Paul's Cathedral.

Heron Tower was designed by architects Kohn Pederson Fox and is a 755 foot (230 meter) tower, including a 28 meter mast. The building is a glass and steel structure that provides 442,928 square feet (41,149 square meters) of office space over 36 floors plus a restaurant, sky bar and three basement levels. The offices are divided into groups of three floors to form office 'villas' of around 35,000 square feet.

The service core is offset to create flexible, open plan office space and the external steel structure reduces the need for internal columns. The floors are served by ten double-deck high speed lifts plus six external scenic lifts. Clear glass on the building facades maximizes daylight and photovoltaic cells generate renewable energy, giving the building a BREEAM 'Excellent' rating.

Heron Tower, which is being constructed by Heron International, will be the centerpiece of the Heron Plaza development on the 110 Bishopgate site. This will include new public spaces, squares and gardens. By the end of 2009, the building had reached the 44th floor, which meant it overtook Tower 42 to become the tallest building in the City of London. However, its reign was short lived, with Shard London Bridge overtaking it well before its completion.

Both buildings will change the London skyline forever and hopefully they will become a symbol for growth and new beginnings as they reach completion at a time when the country should be bouncing back from the recession.