The Shard, London's tallest building, opens today

India News Bulletin Desk
The Shard, London's tallest building, opens.
Image: Wikimedia Commons (Woodviller)

The Shard, the tallest building in the European Union was inaugurated in the evening of Thursday, July 5 by the Prime Minister of Qatar in a ceremony which was attended by Prince Andrew, Duke of York. 

Also called the Shard London Bridge, the building in Southwark, London, is 309.6 metres (1,016 feet) above the ground level. When fully leased the building could be worth nearly £2bn. It was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.

The Shard stands where Southwark Towers, a 24-storey building constructed in 1975, stood. 

Its construction began in March 2009 and was completed in April 2012. With an aim to make the building energy-efficient. Shard's designers have fitted a CHP (Combined heat and power plant) which uses a gas engine to generate both electricity and heat at the same time reducing its carbon footprint. 

The skyscraper boasts of plush marble interiors and will become home to offices, restaurants, apartments and more. But, at the time of its opening, all its office floors remained unleased. While the building has 94 floors, only 72 are habitable. The 72nd floor features a viewing gallery and an observation deck.

The Shard's opening came just 22 days ahead of London 2012 Olympic Games aiming to attract tourists who will visit the UK capital during the sporting event.

Two months since its opening, several high-end hospitality operators have shown interest in the Shard. Among the restaurants keen to have a presence in the Shard are Knightsbridge-based restaurateur Arjun Waney and chef-partner Rainer Becker's Roka restaurant specialising in Japanese cuisine as well as David Yeo's Aqua Restaurant Group. 

Currently in London, Waney's Roka can be found at Canary Wharf and Charlotte Street and another brand Zuma is located at Knightsbridge. Waney and Becker plan to open a grill and bar at the Shard's 32nd floor by Spring 2013.

In 2013, the Shard will also become home to Shangri-La hotel which will occupy floors 34 to 52 and design spas, gyms, lounges, conference rooms and more than 200 hotel rooms.

The Shard was used by Prince Andrew and his team of 40 people for a fund-raising activity in September 2012. Prince Andrew abseiled from its 87th floor to raise money for two charities -- the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Funds and the Outward Bound Trust.

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