The Shard KO
London Bridge Tower – or the Shard as it is now known, in reference to its tapering, jagged shape that resembles a splinter of glass – is a 95-storey skyscraper that forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development. It replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office block that stood on the site from 1975 to 2008. At over 309 metres, the Shard is the tallest building in the UK and the EU, and the fourth-tallest building in Europe.
It was designed by the internationally-renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, who was inspired by images of London’s church spires in the paintings of the 18th-century Venetian artist Canaletto, and the site’s location on the banks of the river, stating that it would appear as "a bell tower of the 16th century, or the mast of a great ship”. It has a wide base and a split pinnacle point with angled panes of glass in the four facades, designed to reflect sunlight and sky so that, the building, visible from many locations across London and beyond, changes its appearance according to the weather and the different seasons.
Completed in 2012, the tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the top floor, and contains luxury residences and a hotel, along with along with offices, shops and restaurants.