Categories ArchitecturePosted on

30 St Mary Axe

Walking through the emblematic streets of the City of London, 30 St Mary Axe, better known as the ‘Gherkin’, doesn’t go unnoticed. Cameras of tourists snap perpetually, not wanting to miss a photograph of one of the capital’s most iconic buildings. Despite neighbouring skyscrapers such as the ‘Cheesegrater’ and ‘Walkie-Talkie’, the Gherkin has managed to transform the urban landscape of the City, becoming a perfectly recognisable symbol thanks to its peculiar shape.

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Walking through the emblematic streets of the City of London, 30 St Mary Axe, better known as the ‘Gherkin’, doesn’t go unnoticed. Cameras of tourists snap perpetually, not wanting to miss a photograph of one of the capital’s most iconic buildings. Despite neighbouring skyscrapers such as the ‘Cheesegrater’ and ‘Walkie-Talkie’, the Gherkin has managed to transform the urban landscape of the City, becoming a perfectly recognisable symbol thanks to its peculiar shape.

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Conceived as the first ecological skyscraper in London, the tower spans 75,000 square metres, soaring over 41 storeys on a circular plan with radial geometry. Its peculiarity is in its form, becoming wider with every floor as it climbs from the ground to the centre, where it then decreases in width again, reaching its smallest point at the top. This distribution maximises the limited ground floor space of the site, liberating it back to the City.

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Thanks to its profile, the building has an aerodynamic edge over straight-plant skyscrapers of similar height as its design helps reduce wind deviation. Reaching a height of 180 meters, its skin is made of triangular double glass panels, which – despite the building’s curvilinear appearance – maintain a flat shape. Behind its cladding, the Gherkin’s triangular-made structure works in conjunction with a central core to provide lateral stability, eliminating the need for intermediate pillars and offering spacious, open-plan interiors.

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Such space gives way for luxury collaborative office space, facilitating flexibility in the distribution of workspaces with the added bonus of panoramic 360 degree views over London. Natural light radiates through the glass facade and open floors, a sight best observed at the exclusive restaurant located on the top of the building. Reserved for private events, it offers one of the best views of the city.

In the intermediate office floors, atriums intertwine vertically, creating opportunities for leisure, relaxation areas and social union links between the different levels. In turn, these spaces provide a lung for the building, in which extracted air accumulates inside through the glass panes of the facade. This system reduces the use of air conditioning in the building, and together with other sustainable energy measures, means the skyscraper consumes half the power of office buildings possessing similar characteristics.

30 St Marys Axe is a building to be proud of, and there’s no wonder that it was a centre piece in Britain’s proposed marketing for the Olympic Games in 2012. One of the posters used for bidding in 2004 showed the top of the Gherkin against a clear blue sky, holding a gymnast. His legs were aligned with the outer spiral of the building and the costume embodied the same colours as its glazed surface, paired in perfect harmony.

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Since its completion in 2004, the Gherkin has been the scene of numerous TV shows, commercials, movies and other media. An engineering feat that has been celebrated many times over, 30 St Marys Axe has become an iconic monument to London in the same way the Eiffel Tower is to Paris or the Empire State Building to New York. And we cannot forget to mention the impact it has had on British architecture thanks to the prestigious team of designers at Foster & Partners, and appointed original owner, Swiss Re, as one of the leading companies worldwide.

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30 St Marys Axe is without doubt a place you should not miss if you’re passing through London. Like a true Londoner, take the opportunity to enjoy some snacks in the square at the foot of the building as it towers above you, or snap it as part of the iconic London skyline from further afield on the Southbank of the River Thames.

The Gherkin
30 St Mary Axe,
London
EC3A 8EP

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