• 26th September 2018

Stride – Featured building – The Shard

5 things you should know about one of London’s most iconic buildings.

  1. The Shard was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano
  2. At 309.7m (1,016ft) The Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom and the European Union
  3. The Shard has 11,000 glass panels on its exterior and it takes a team of 6 window cleaners a week to clean 1 side
  4. The Shard is made from approximately 95% recycled materials
  5. The Shard can be seen from 40 miles in any direction

The idea

In 1998, Irvine Stellar, an English fashion retailer turned property developer, and his partners decided to redevelop the Southwark Towers. The idea came from a government whitepaper encouraging the development of tall buildings in London.

Following his meeting with Renzo Piano in spring 2000, Stellar started to plan the development that we would later know as The Shard.

In 2007, building contractor Mace was awarded the contract to build The Shard for a fixed-price of £350m, which was later increased to £435m in October 2008.

The inspiration

The Shard was inspired by a church spire, shooting up from the river Thames. Renzo’s design was initially criticised by English heritage groups who claimed that the building would look like “a shard of glass through the heart of historic London”. Piano considered his spire-like design to be a positive addition to the London skyline

The Fox and The Shard

During the construction of The Shard, workers found a fox on the 72nd floor. The fox (nicknamed Romeo) was believed to be living off scraps of food left behind by construction workers. It took two weeks for pest control to capture the fox and he was later released back to the streets of Bermondsey. Romeo has since become an iconic symbol of the building and you can buy miniature foxes in the tower, with the proceeds going to a local charity.


The Shard is a multi-use building which encompasses housing, offices, restaurants, bars and viewing galleries.

The Shard houses the UK’s first Shangri-La hotel, boasting 200 luxury rooms occupying floors 34 – 52. The hotel has a wide array of amenities including a gourmet delicatessen, international restaurant, iconic bar, gym and infinity pool.

Unexpected thrills

The Shard, during its construction, became a popular place for urban exploration. In 2011, a group of approximately 20 recreational trespassers climbed their way to the top of the Shard building site.

A number of different BASE jumpers also climbed The Shard building site to jump from the tallest point. It is reported that four jumps were made by Essex roofer Dan Witchalls.

The climbers continued following the completion of the building on February 1st 2013, when group of six Greenpeace protesters climbed for 16 hours and hung a flag that stated “Save the arctic” from the top of The Shard.

The French urban climber Alain Robert was spotted in the building  soon after it opened and has since had an injunction actioned against him to stop him from trying to climb the building.


We use cookies to improve your experience on our site find out more