The View from The Shard – part 1 – The Past and The Future

I was lucky yesterday to be a guest at a preview of the newest (and tallest) attraction in London – The View from The Shard.

Accompanied by other bloggers and Blue Badge Guides I got to see the attraction before tickets go on sale.  The View is located on the floors 68 to 72 in The Shard and is the highest vantage point from any building in Western Europe. This level is also the highest habitable floor. (The third part of my visit will explore this a little more). Whilst The Shard is very new, it is located in one of the oldest parts of London, Southwark. The area dates back to Roman times. Shakespeare lived in the borough and the rebuild Globe Theatre is a 10-15 minute walk away. Tate Modern is close also, and the South Bank Centre is about 20-25 minutes away along the Thames.

The team running the attraction tell me that this is the only place where it is possible to see all of London at once – from levels 69 and 72. Quite a first!

The Shard building is 309.6 metres high (or 1,016ft for my American readers) and it’s floor area is 31.4 acres.

The building located adjacent to London Bridge Station – served by both The Tube and suburban trains. The Station is being substantially rebuilt as part of the redevelopment of the area in to the London Bridge Quarter. It is expected that the building works will be finished in 2018.

The Shard is a multi-purpose building and will include the new (and the UK’s first) 200 room Shangri-La Hotel and Spa on Floor 34 to 52. Residences are being installed on Floors 53-65 with Restaurants occupying Floors 31-33. Office space and the Winter Gardens occupy the base, from Floors 4 to 28.

The name ‘The Shard’ was adopted for the building after it was given this nickname, following comments by master architext Renzo Piano, called the development a ‘shard of glass’. The sides of the building form a shard, a plane of glass gently inclined upwards. The corners of the development are open, allowing the building to ‘breathe’ say the owners.

As the venue was in preview mode on the date of my visit, (it opens on 1 February 2013), not everything was ready for visitors. However, it did give a great feel for what a visitor might see.

Arrival, and the purchase of tickets (sold in one hour blocks, although you can stay as long as you like) is via box office just inside the door at the southern end of Joiner Street. The attraction is open 9am to 10pm, 7 days per week which allows visitors to see the city by day or night.

(Tip: If you need the bathroom go on the Ground Floor, there are none further up)

After an airport style security process – they found a surprising number of small penknives in the bags of my fellow visitors – there is a photo opportunity – which you can pay for at the exit. It superimposes you (or your party) on a view from The Shard – day or night:

You then walk a short corridor to the first of the two lifts required to get to The View from The Shard.

There is a display of facts about The Shard to keep people interested whilst they wait:

Tomorrow – Trip to Top