City Hall
and The Shard

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The former London City Hall (Southwark) and the Shard, Southwark, London, England, UK.

The sun was setting, casting an orange hue over the London cityscape. In the foreground of the picture was the former London City Hall, a grand, imposing structure that stood like a sentinel on the south bank of the River Thames in the London Borough of Southwark.

Beyond it, piercing the sky with its sharp edges and glass surfaces, was the Shard, a monument to modernity and progress. To the left, the horizon was tinged orange, as if a painter had decided to add a final touch to a canvas, completing the majestic view.

The air was still, quiet and peaceful, the hustle and bustle of the city subdued as if by mutual agreement for just the few moments it would take to capture the beauty of the moment in a photograph. The sun was setting, and soon enough the light would be gone, the night coming in to take its place. But for now, the city was alive with the golden hour, and the peace that comes in the stillness of twilight.

City Hall, London (Southwark)

City Hall is a building in Southwark, London which previously served as the headquarters of the Greater London Authority (GLA) between July 2002 and December 2021. It is located in the London Borough of Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames near Tower Bridge. In June 2020, the Greater London Authority started a consultation on proposals to vacate City Hall and move to The Crystal, a GLA-owned property in Newham, at the end of 2021. The decision was confirmed on 3 November 2020 and the GLA vacated City Hall on 2 December 2021. The Southwark location is ultimately owned by the government of Kuwait.


City Hall was designed by Norman Foster and was constructed at a cost of £43 million on a site formerly occupied by wharves serving the Pool of London. It opened in July 2002, two years after the Greater London Authority was created, and was leased rather than owned by the Greater London Authority. Despite its name, City Hall is not in and does not serve a city (according to UK law), often adding to the confusion of Greater London with the City of London, which has its headquarters at Guildhall. In June 2011, Mayor Boris Johnson announced that for the duration of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the building would be called the London House.

In November 2020, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced plans to vacate City Hall at the end of 2021 and relocate to The Crystal in the Royal Victoria Docks area of East London. Khan cited the high cost of rent as reasoning for relocating the Greater London Authority headquarters, stating that vacating the City Hall in favour of a property owned by the authority would save it £55 million over the course of five years.


The building has an unusual, bulbous shape, purportedly intended to reduce its surface area and thus improve energy efficiency, although the excess energy consumption caused by the exclusive use of glass (in a double facade) overwhelms the benefit of shape. Despite claiming the building "demonstrates the potential for a sustainable, virtually non-polluting public building", energy use measurements have shown this building to be fairly inefficient in terms of energy use (375 kWh/m2/yr), with a 2012 Display Energy Performance Certificate rating of "E". It has been compared variously to a helmet (either Darth Vader's or simply a motorcyclist's), a misshapen egg, and a woodlouse. Former mayor Ken Livingstone referred to it as a "glass testicle", while his successor, Boris Johnson, made the same comparison using a different word, "The Glass Gonad" and more politely as "The Onion".

A 500-meter (1,640 ft) helical walkway ascends the full ten storeys. At the top is an exhibition and meeting space with an open viewing deck that was occasionally open to the public. The walkway provides views of the interior of the building, and is intended to symbolise transparency; a similar device was used by Foster in his design for the rebuilt Reichstag (parliament) when Germany's capital was moved back to Berlin. In 2006 it was announced that photovoltaic cells would be fitted to the building by the London Climate Change Agency.

The debating chamber was located at the bottom of the helical stairway. The seats and desks for Assembly Members were arranged in a circular form.


The building is located on the River Thames in the London Borough of Southwark, as part of the extended pedestrianised South Bank. It forms part of a larger development called More London, including offices and shops. The nearest London Underground and National Rail station is London Bridge.

The Shard

The Shard, also referred to as the Shard London Bridge and formerly London Bridge Tower, is a 72-storey skyscraper, designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, in Southwark, London, that forms part of The Shard Quarter development. Standing 309.6 meters (1,016 feet) high, The Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom, and the seventh-tallest building in Europe. It is also the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the concrete tower of the Emley Moor transmitting station. It replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office block built on the site in 1975.

The Shard's construction began in March 2009; it was topped out on 30 March 2012 and inaugurated on 5 July 2012. Practical completion was achieved in November 2012. The tower's privately operated observation deck, The View from The Shard, was opened to the public on 1 February 2013. The glass-clad pyramidal tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244 meters (801 ft). The Shard was developed by Sellar Property Group on behalf of LBQ Ltd and is jointly owned by Sellar Property (5%) and the State of Qatar (95%).



In 1998, London-based entrepreneur Irvine Sellar and his partners decided to redevelop the 1970s-era Southwark Towers following a UK government white paper encouraging the development of tall buildings at major transport hubs. Sellar flew to Berlin in the spring of 2000 to meet the Italian architect Renzo Piano for lunch. According to Sellar, Piano spoke of his contempt for conventional tall buildings during the meal, before flipping over the restaurant's menu and sketching a spire-like sculpture emerging from the River Thames.

In July 2002, the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, ordered a planning inquiry after the development plans for the Shard were opposed by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and several heritage bodies, including the Royal Parks Foundation and English Heritage. The inquiry took place in April and May 2003, and on 19 November 2003, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced that planning consent had been approved. The government stated that:

    Mr. Prescott would only approve skyscrapers of exceptional design. For a building of this size to be acceptable, the quality of its design is critical. He is satisfied that the proposed tower is of the highest architectural quality.

Sellar and his original partners CLS Holdings plc and CN Ltd (acting for the Halabi Family Trust) secured an interim funding package of £196 million in September 2006 from the Nationwide Building Society and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander. This enabled them to pay off the costs already incurred and to buy out the Southwark Towers occupational lease from the building's tenants, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Vacant possession of the site was secured a year later after PricewaterhouseCoopers completed the relocation of their operations.

In September 2007, preparations for the demolition of Southwark Towers began. However, later that same month, turbulence in the financial markets reportedly put the Shard's construction in jeopardy, threatening to render the project an example of the Skyscraper Index.

In November 2007, building contractor Mace was awarded the contract to build the Shard for a fixed price of no more than £350 million. However, this price increased to almost £435 million in October 2008.

In April 2008, the demolition of Southwark Towers was visibly underway, and by October, the building had been substantially reduced in height and was no longer visible on the skyline. The demolition was completed in early 2009, and site preparation began for the construction of the Shard.


Towards the end of 2007, the gathering uncertainty in the global financial markets sparked concerns about the viability of the Shard. However, in January 2008, Sellar announced that it had secured funding from a consortium of Qatari investors, who had paid £150 million to secure an 80% stake in the project. The consortium included Qatar National Bank, QInvest, Qatari Islamic Bank, and the Qatari property developer Barwa Real Estate, as well as Sellar Property. The deal involved a buyout of the Halabi and CLS Holdings stakes and part of the Sellar Property stake. The new owners promised to provide the first tranche of finance, allowing construction of the tower to begin. In 2009, the State of Qatar consolidated its ownership of the London Bridge Quarter (known now as Shard Quarter), including The Shard, through the purchase of private Qatari investors' stakes. Shard Quarter is today jointly owned by the State of Qatar and Sellar.


Renzo Piano, the project's architect, designed The Shard as a spire-like sculpture emerging from the River Thames. He was inspired by the railway lines next to the site, the London spires depicted by the 18th-century Venetian painter Canaletto, and the masts of sailing ships. Piano's design met criticism from English Heritage, who claimed the building would be "a shard of glass through the heart of historic London", giving the building its name, The Shard. Piano considered the slender, spire-like form of the tower a positive addition to the London skyline, recalling the church steeples featured in historic engravings of the city, and believed that its presence would be far more delicate than opponents of the project alleged. He proposed a sophisticated use of glazing, with expressive façades of angled glass panes intended to reflect sunlight and the sky above, so that the appearance of the building will change according to the weather and seasons. The building features 11,000 panes of glass, with a total surface area of 602,779 square feet (56,000.0 m2) equivalent to the area of almost eight Wembley football pitches.

The Shard was designed with energy efficiency in mind. It is fitted with a combined heat and power (CHP) plant, operating on natural gas from the National Grid. Fuel is efficiently converted to electricity, and heat is recovered from the engine to provide hot water for the building.

Following the destruction of New York's World Trade Center (WTC) in the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, architects and structural engineers worldwide began re-evaluating the design of tall structures. The Shard's early conceptual designs were among the first in the UK to be amended following the publication of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report into the collapse of the WTC. The building is designed to maintain its stability under very onerous conditions, with its post-tensioned concrete and composite floors, load-bearing pillars, and tapering shape giving it a sway tolerance of 400 millimeters (16 in).

In 2014, The Shard claimed first place at the Emporis Skyscraper Awards, recognising buildings over 100 m (328 ft) completed in the previous twelve months. The Emporis judges hailed the building as "a skyscraper that is recognized immediately and which is already considered London's new emblem".


For the construction of the skyscraper, some path-breaking engineering methods were used, such as top-down construction, where foundations are dug while the core is built up — this was a first for the UK. In February 2009, a mobile crane and a small piling rig arrived on site. In early March 2009, the crane began putting steel beams into the ground, as part of preparations for the core of the building. Full construction began on 16 March 2009. Demolition work on New London Bridge House started in May 2009, as part of the concurrent London Bridge Place project. The first steelwork went into The Shard's piles on 28 April. Five cranes were used to build The Shard, with four of them 'jumping' with the tower as it rose. Crane 1 was erected in September 2009 and Crane 2 was erected at the beginning of October. By 20 October 2009, steel beams began appearing on site, with concrete being poured at the northern part of the site, ready for Crane 3.

By March 2010, the concrete core was rising steadily at about 3 m (10 ft) a day. After a pause in March–April 2010, it continued rising, reaching the 33rd floor in mid-June, almost level with the top of Guy's Hospital, which stands at 143 m (469 ft). On 27 July 2010, the core stopped rising, having reached the 38th floor, and was reconfigured for further construction. By mid-November 2010, the core had reached the 68th floor, with the tower's steel reaching the 40th floor and glass cladding enveloping a third of the building. In late November, the core's height exceeded 235 m (771 ft), ending One Canada Square's 18-year reign as Britain's tallest building.

The Shard's concrete core topped out on the 72nd floor in early 2011, standing at 244 m (801 ft). The early part of January 2011 saw the installation of hydraulic screens, which were used to form the concrete floors of the hotel and apartment section of the tower, and rose with the floors up to the 69th floor. On 25 January 2011, the concrete pumps began pouring the first concrete floor on the 41st floor. By the end of February 2011, concrete flooring had risen to the 46th floor, with a new floor being poured on average every week. The cladding of the structure also progressed, mainly on the tower's "backpack". During this phase of construction, a fox was discovered living at the top of the unfinished skyscraper. The fox, named Romeo by staff, is thought to have entered the building through the central stairwell. It survived by eating scraps of food left by builders working on the incomplete structure. The fox was captured and taken to Riverside Animal Centre in Wallington.

August 2011 saw steady progress in construction, with cladding enveloping more than half the building's exterior. The pouring of the concrete floors reached the 67th floor, and the progression of the tower's cladding reached the 58th floor. By mid-August, the core box had been removed. By 19 September 2011, the tower's steel was approaching the height of the completed core, reaching almost 244 m (801 ft). On 24 September, a final crane — at the time, the tallest ever built in Britain — was erected to install the skyscraper's upper spire. The spire was pre-fabricated and pre-assembled based on 3D models and underwent a "test run" in Yorkshire before being lifted onto the building itself. By late December 2011, the Shard had become the tallest building in the European Union, superseding the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Shard's steel structure was topped out on 30 March 2012, when its 66-meter (217 ft), 500-tonne spire was winched into place. The steel structure thus reached a height of 308.7 m (1,013 ft). The final 516 panes of glass were added shortly after, topping the tower out at its full height of 309.6 m (1,016 ft).

The Shard was inaugurated on 5 July 2012 by the Prime Minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, in a ceremony attended by Prince Andrew, Duke of York. Practical completion of the building was achieved in November 2012.


Standing 309.6 meters (1,016 ft) at its highest point, and 308.5 meters (1,012 ft) at the highest point of its steelwork, The Shard became the tallest building in the European Union in December 2011, and the tallest completed building in Europe on 30 March 2012. It is taller than Frankfurt's Commerzbank Tower at 259 m (850 ft) the record holder between 1997 and 2005 and three later skyscrapers of Moscow: the Triumph-Palace, Naberezhnaya Tower, and City of Capitals. These three had each held the title for roughly 2+1⁄2 years. The Shard was overtaken by a fourth such tower in November 2012: the 339-meter (1,112 ft) Mercury City Tower. The Shard was surpassed as the tallest European building outside Russia by the 310-meter (1,017 ft) Varso Tower, Warsaw, Poland in February 2021.

The Shard is the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the 330-meter (1,083 ft) concrete transmission tower at Emley Moor. Another planned London skyscraper, the Pinnacle (now replaced by 22 Bishopsgate), was originally proposed to rival the height of The Shard but was reduced to a height of 287.9 meters (945 ft) because of concerns from the Civil Aviation Authority. It is taller than all of the natural peaks in London and in adjoining counties, the highest of which is Walbury Hill, close to Wiltshire.


The Shard comprises a 26-floor office complex, occupied by 32 companies across 10 business sectors, 3 restaurants — Aqua Shard, Oblix, and Hutong — the five-star Shangri-La The Shard, London hotel, 10 residential apartments, and the UK's highest viewing gallery, The View from The Shard.

In February 2013, The Sunday Times reported that the developers of The Shard were in negotiations to secure the first tenants of the building's 26 floors of office space. At the time, potential tenants included financial restructuring specialists Duff & Phelps, private equity firm Hatton Corporation, and the South Hook Liquefied Natural Gas Company.

The Shard's fourth, fifth, and sixth floors host the HCA (Hospital Corporations of America), part of London Bridge Hospital. The Shard's 31st, 32nd, and 33rd floors host three restaurants: Oblix, Hutong, and Aqua Shard. The building's Shangri-La Hotel occupies floors 34–52. The hotel was initially expected to open by the end of 2013, but its opening was ultimately delayed to 6 May 2014. In March 2014, Mathys & Squire became the first law firm to take tenancy in the building. In May 2014, the Foresight Group, an investment firm, moved its head UK office into The Shard on the 17th floor. In June 2015, Warwick Business School opened its new base in The Shard, occupying the same floor, and was officially opened by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. It houses a 100-seat lecture theatre and a smaller one at 60 seats, plus 8 seminar rooms and an IT lab, offering postgraduate and executive education.

In July 2013, the Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera Media Network announced that it would open a new television studio and newsroom for Al Jazeera English in The Shard. Al Jazeera moved in on 13 September 2014; its first live broadcast from the building was on 10 November 2014. The facility currently houses all primary operations for Al Jazeera Media Network's channels in London; it is capable of running an entire channel independent from Al Jazeera's other hubs and is the network's second-biggest hub after its facility in Doha, Qatar.

In January 2015, further tenants for The Shard were announced, including IO Oil & Gas Consulting, Gallup, and The Office Group. In May 2015, the American recruitment consultancy Robert Half International announced that it would move several branches of its business into The Shard, having purchased 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) of floor space on the tower's tenth floor. In August 2015, the international law firm Greenberg Traurig announced that it would open its offices on the eighth floor of The Shard by the end of the year.

Matches Fashion took over 35,000 sq ft in January 2016, and six months later expanded its headquarters presence in The Shard by 40%. In March 2016, marketing agency Jellyfish signed a lease for 9,017 square feet (837.7 m2) of office space on the 22nd floor, with occupancy beginning later in the year. A month later, publishing house Dods Group let almost 17,000 square feet (1,600 m2) on Level 11, becoming The Shard's 28th office occupier. In December, Kraft Heinz relocated their European and UK headquarters from Hayes in Hillingdon to The Shard after taking 38,000 square feet (3,500 m2) on Levels 20 & 21.

The Shard offices were announced as fully let in October 2017, following lettings to Mitie and existing occupiers, Foresight Group, and Warwick Business School.

Urban exploration, BASE jumping, and climbing

In December 2011, a group of recreational explorers calling themselves the Place Hackers evaded security and made their way to the top of the Shard building site, climbing one of the tallest cranes in the process. They later posted photographs of the London skyline taken from the top of the Shard on the Internet and received wide media attention. One member of the group, Oxford University researcher Bradley Garrett, later revealed to various news outlets that over 20 urban explorers had made their way to the top of the building during its construction. In a 2012 article for Domus magazine, Garrett wrote that "the conceptual barrier to places in our cities is brought about by a process of engineered exclusion" and that the explorers were "cultivating the creative city that money can't buy".

BASE jumpers reportedly jumped from The Shard more than a dozen times between 2009 and 2012. Four jumps were reportedly made by Essex roofer Dan Witchalls, who had filmed one attempt with a helmet-mounted camera. The highest jump was said to have been from a height of 260 meters (850 ft). In March 2016 another person BASE jumped from The Shard.

On 3 September 2012, a team of 40 people, including Prince Andrew, Duke of York, abseiled from the tower's 87th floor. This feat was performed to raise money for the Outward Bound Trust and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. In November 2012, the French urban climber Alain Robert was spotted in the building by security guards. At the end of the month, the Shard's owners won an injunction to prevent him from entering or climbing the building.

On 11 July 2013, six female Greenpeace volunteers climbed the Shard and unfurled a flag in protest against Arctic oil drilling by Royal Dutch Shell. The women announced they were "experienced climbers", but medical personnel was summoned to the base of the tower nonetheless. The Shard's staff closed the tower's observatory and gave the women a safety briefing and other advice during their climb. After completing their 16-hour climb, the six women were arrested by police on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

In popular culture

  • The Shard appears in the 2012 short film The Snowman and The Snowdog and its tie-in computer game.
  • The Shard has a significant role in the 2013 Doctor Who episode "The Bells of Saint John" as the headquarters of the episode's antagonist, the Great Intelligence. The Doctor vertically rode an anti-gravity motorbike on the face of the building and through a window to reach the Great Intelligence's headquarters.
  • The Shard appears in the climactic scene of the 2019 film Spider-Man: Far From Home. It is Nick Fury/Talos's & Maria Hill/Soren's lookout while the final battle takes place between Spider-Man and Mysterio on Tower Bridge.
  • In Pokémon Sword and Shield, the Pokémon Duraludon and its Gigantamax form is based on the Shard.
  • It is featured in the Mario Kart games Mario Kart Tour and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as part of the London Loop racecourse.
  • The Shard appears in the 2020 video game Watch Dogs: Legion referred to chiefly as 'Nexus Tower'.
  • The Shard features prominently in the 2022 music video for the Machine Gun Kelly song "Maybe".

More London

More London, part of an area known as London Bridge City, is a development on the south bank of the River Thames, immediately southwest of Tower Bridge in London. It is owned by the Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund.

It includes the City Hall, a sunken amphitheater called The Scoop, office blocks, shops, restaurants, cafes, and a pedestrianized area containing open-air sculptures and fountains lit by coloured lights. The Hilton London Tower Bridge Hotel opened in September 2006.

More London is 13 acres (53,000 m2) in size and has planning consent for 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2) of mixed-use space, of which up to two million square feet will be offices, accommodating up to 20,000 people. The buildings were designed by Foster and Partners architects. The buildings are known as 1 & 6 More London Place, and 2, 3, 4, and 7 More London Riverside. The public area, which includes The Scoop, a fountain, and planting areas, was designed by Townshend Landscape Architects.

More London has frequent outdoor exhibitions and cultural events. For most of 2005, there was a popular open-air exhibition of large environmental photographs called Earth from the Air.

In 2007, the development was shortlisted for the Carbuncle Cup Architecture prize, an annual competition by Building Design for "the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months."

"The Rill", a brick water channel that ran along one walkway of the area, was filled in in 2018.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Tower of London, England, United Kingdom, UK Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom, UK The British Museum, London, England, United Kingdom