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Five superstar buildings that have revolutionised London’s skyline

17 October 2013 No Comment

The Pint, The Cheesegrater, The Gherkin…not kitchen contents but ingenious nicknames for brilliantly innovative buildings. The UK capital’s skyline is continuously evolving, and its stars both old and new are shining bright.

Here are five of the best modern architectural icons that have helped transform London:

The Pint (or ‘Walkie Talkie’): 20 Fenchurch Street

When this 37-storey building has finally been poured into London’s skyline it’ll certainly be a sight you’ll want to drink in. Due to be completed in 2014, The Pint – also known as the Walkie Talkie – has a distinctive, top-heavy head atop its narrow base, which will be home to public viewing decks, terraces, a café, restaurant and sky gardens.

Walkie Talkie progress Sep 2013

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Architect Rafael Vinoly created its unique shape to allow its owners to maximise skyward floor space for its commercial tenants, where rent is typically higher. Finding a pint in the financial area of the City of London is going to suddenly become much easier with this beauty on the horizon, even if it will need to be chilled before serving.The-Pint-Walkie-Talkie-build-2

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The Pint earned the less desirable nicknames of the ‘Fryscraper’ and ‘Walkie Scorchie’ after sunlight reflecting off its shape became six times hotter than it should have been when hitting the streets below during this year’s unusual summer weather, apparently melting part of a parked Jaguar. Plans are now in place for a shady, long-term solution.

The Gherkin: 30 St Mary Axe

This tasty building has become world-famous and award-winning thanks to its distinctive shape. It may still seem new and novel to some, but it’s actually been part of the skyline for almost a decade.


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Designed by Norman Foster and Arup engineers, you may think it features lots of curved glass but you’d be wrong. There’s only one piece of curved glass in the entire building, which is the lens-style cap on the top.


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With 41 floors and a height of 180 metres, it’s a landmark that can be seen for miles around, from both the M11 motorway some 20 miles away and Windsor Great Park.

The Cheesegrater: 122 Leadenhall Street

Designed by renowned architect Richard Rogers, 122 Leadenhall Street is due to be finished in 2014.


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With its unique metal wedge shape, this 225-metre high building became known as the ‘Cheesegrater’ when it was just at model concept stage, when City of London Corporation’s chief planning officer, Peter Rees, announced he could visualise it being used to grate parmesan.


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Unlike other tall buildings that typically use a concrete core to provide stability, the Cheesegrater’s steel ‘megaframe’ – designed by Arup and the tallest in the world – will provide support to the entire structure. The ‘grater will truly be great, both inside and out.

The Shard: London Bridge

At 310 metres high, The Shard was at the sharp end of tall building fame when it briefly held the title of Europe’s tallest building.


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Part of the London Bridge Quarter development, you can now ascend to the top with its ‘View from The Shard’ private viewing deck which opened this year.


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Italian architect Renzo Piano visualised a spire rising from the Thames when designing The Shard, inspired by the city’s cathedral spires, steeples and the masts of sailing ships. With clever use of glazing – more than 11,000 panes of glass – to reflect the sunlight and the sky, the building’s appearance changes with the weather and the seasons.


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Love it or hate it, The Shard is a cutting-edge design that’s a must-see if you’ve got a head for heights.

The Tower: St George Wharf

You don’t need any other name than The Tower when you’re creating the UK’s largest solely-residential skyscraper. Nearing completion, Broadway Malyan’s Tower will stand at a dizzying 181 metres and 49 storeys high.


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Designed in simplicity, its floor plan is based on a wheel shape with walls stretching out from a central core to create five apartments per floor, with residents benefitting from external spaces which step out from its cylindrical shape to add visual interest to its shape and fresh air for owners.


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Impressive 360-degree terraces top the tower, which even has its own wind turbine on the roof to power communal lighting. Would you like to live here? It’s definitely a towering new addition to London’s horizon.

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