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Ten Interesting Facts and Figures about the Shard – The Tallest Building in the UK

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Threading the skies over London like a great glass needle, the Shard is one of the city’s newest and most striking skyscrapers.  Completed in 2013, it has 95 floors and stands at 1,106 feet, making it also the tallest structure in the city and the whole of the United Kingdom.  In the short time that it has been a part of London, the Shard has made more of an impression than simply being a tall building.  All those floors contain some pretty interesting information.  If you read on, you’ll discover some of the Shard’s secrets. Some people hate it, some people love it. It’s not going anywhere.

A Very Green Building

The builders of the Shard were quite environmentally conscious and 95% of the building materials are recycled.  It was designed to have a small carbon footprint and be energy efficient, with its own combined heat and power plant (CHP) to meet the building’s needs.  The essentially means that the Shard has its own small-scale power plant to reduce power transmission losses.  The fact that most of the exterior is specially-made glass also helps to reduce the sun’s heat within the building and keep it cool without relying too much on air conditioning.

All that Glass

Speaking of glass, the Shard is covered in 11,000 panels of it.

Expensive Hotel Room

The Shangri-La is a chain of luxury hotels and its London location operates on floors 34-52 of the Shard.  The most exclusive room in the hotel is the Shangri-La suite, which costs about £14,000 per night.  In addition to the stunning 180-degree view that it offers, the room also has about 617 square feet of space, a Nespresso machine, steam shower, jacuzzi bath, 1,000 thread count sheets, and a twenty-four hour butler.

Fastest Lifts in Europe

The Shard’s lifts move at nearly 20 feet per second.

Top of the Fox

Urban foxes have long been a problem in London and the Shard had its own very special encounter with one.  The story goes that, as the Shard was under construction, staff found a fox on the 72nd floor.  They figured he must have gotten up there via the stairwell and survived by living off the worker’s scraps.  Nicknamed Romeo, it took pest controllers from Southwark Council two weeks to capture him.  Council staff then released him on the streets of Bermondsey.  Romeo has since become something of a mascot for the Shard and miniature plush versions of him are available for sale at the tower, with the proceeds going to a local charity.

Cleanliness is Hard Work

The Shard employs a team of six window cleaners who take one week to clean a side of the Shard.  As there are four sides, it takes them roughly a month to finish, then they start all over again.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Ten Interesting Facts and Figures about the Shard – The Tallest Building in the UK

The observation decks of the Shard can be found on floors 68, 69, and 72.  Tickets are needed (and they’re expensive), so it’s a good idea to book in advance, but once you get there, there is no shortage of interesting features on these three levels.  Floor 68 features an exhibit called Cloudscape, which teaches you all about the types of clouds you will see from the observation decks.  Floor 69 is where the interactive telescopes are located.  Lastly, for the truly daring, Floor 72 is open to the elements.  The View from the Shard also hosts regular events and private tours are available for hire.


The Shard can be seen from 40 miles in any direction.

See You Next Fall

Being the tallest building in Europe, the Shard is quite a tempting object for base jumpers, individuals who enjoy leaping from tall heights and then pulling the chord on a parachute to glide back to the street.  Approximately twelve attempts were made between 2009 and 2012 while the building was under construction, with four of them by Essex roofer Dan Witchalls.  The highest of these jumps was from 850 feet.  The most recent jump was made in March 2016 by a man who has yet to be identified.

Barred from the Shard

Base jumpers aren’t the only ones looking to gain access to the Shard for less than permitted reasons.  In 2013, a group of six protestors from Greenpeace took sixteen hours to climb the building and unfurl a flag at its summit that said “Save the Arctic”.  The year before, security guards spotted French urban climber Alain Robert trying to enter the building.  The owners then got a permanent injunction to prevent Mr. Robert from entering or climbing the building.

John Rabon
Author: John Rabon

John is a regular writer for Anglotopia and its sister websites. He is currently engaged in finding a way to move books slightly to the left without the embarrassment of being walked in on by Eddie Izzard. For any comments, questions, or complaints, please contact the Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's haircut.

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  1. There are a lot of people that hate this building. But it’s done an amazing job at regenerating what was a very dodgy area. I happen to like some modern architecture and I think it’s beautiful. Great addition to the skyline and it’s certainly better looking that most of the other skyscrapers going up.

  2. I agree. The Shard IS beautiful. The Walkie Talkie – Not so much! I have not decided yet on the Cheesegrater.

      • I think the “Walkie-Talkie” is a quite remarkable building. If you walk around the streets below it, and look at the old buildings that surround it, it’s staggering how they managed to build it there at all! I think the contrast between it and the surrounding ‘traditional’ London buildings add to it’s graceful shape. It’s wonderful to look up at it from the street below, (even if it does give you a sore neck). There were of course, (when it was newly built), the unfortunate incidents of the suns rays being reflected down onto motor cars and buildings opposite, causing some damage, until they solved the problem. For a while, there were huge dark curtains covering some of the upper floors to prevent this. As for the Shard? Wow! What a stunning place. I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced “The View From The Shard” when it was newly opened. It was a bright summer’s day and was quite remarkable, especially from floor 72 (or floor LXXII if you’re a fan of Roman Londinnium). Hardly a cloud to be seen anywhere, except in the far distance, and how many miles in the distance you could see, I can only guess at. It was truly beautiful. The day I have a nice win on the lottery ……… I shall book a nice long stay in the Shangri-La Suite! I also think that the “Cheese-grater” has it’s own, if different, qualities, as have all the recent new builds in the City (Gherkin, NatWest, and to the east, Canary Wharf, etc.). I firmly believe that they ALL have their place in an evolving London. A London that’s been evolving since pre-Roman times, and later the Norman Conquest with the building of the “White Tower” and of course, since the Great Fire in 1666, the graceful and dramatic Georgians and even later, with the Victorian slum clearances. London will continue to evolve beautifully with what some people may think of as perhaps, ‘bizarre’ buildings. I look forward with wonderment, to all the new buildings that will eventually grace and enhance London’s already beautiful Skyline, for many years to come.

  3. Great facts! For it to be visible from 40 miles in every direction is remarkable, as there are so many other tall buildings in London.

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