30 St Mary Axe - The Gherkin

30 St Mary Axe - The Gherkin (2)

Known popularly as The Gherkin, and very similar to the Agbar Tower in Barcelona, this smart skyscraper, at 180 metres height, stands as the second tallest building of the City area after Tower 42.

The project, which combined the efforts of the architecture studio of the prestigious Norman Foster and the engineering company Arup, was built between 2001 and 2004 and is on a site previously occupied by a historic building of the Baltic Exchange company, which ran maritime hiring and sale of boats and which was practically destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1992. They thought they could restore it at first, but later realised that the structure could not be recovered.

To raise this beautiful work of engineering with a capacity for 4,000 people, 35 kilometres of steel were used. The façade was also covered with 24,000 square metres of glass, making it a massive business, or a terrible headache, depending how you see it, for the window-cleaning sector. It is curious that although the “Gherkin” has a curved appearance, the only curved piece of glass is the dome of floor 40, on which there is a spectacular bar with 360º views of the city.

It is a building that follows strict ecological criteria, and precisely due to its shape.  It allows natural light to enter, with the consequent reduction in lighting costs. The ventilation is also improved, using the natural ventilation of the interior spaces, with conducts for cooling in summer and heating in winter. This control of the interior microclimate and energy-saving solutions achieve a reduction of 50%, in any case necessary for a building of this size.

The peculiar appearance of this building has led to controversy. While some people love it and admire it, since among the numerous prizes it has won feature the prestigious Emporis Skyscraper Award of 2003 and the Stirling Prize of 2004, others hate it. As an example, in a survey carried out in 2006 by the BBC London News programme, it was voted by television viewers as one of the most hated buildings in London. It is now your turn to decide whether you like it or not.

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