Just thought I'd share with you some shots from a site visit to the construction of the Shard at London Bridge.
The construction company on this project are also working on The Tate Modern Project so when they offered us a chance to get a closer look at the construction of the highest office building in the European Union we were on the scene quicker than a Nazgul in search of a certain ring!.
The Shard is designed by Renzo Piano and due to open in 2012. What’s more, it’s in Southwark, close to Tate Modern, and the latest piece in the jigsaw as this once slightly forgotten part of central London reasserts itself. When it’s completed it will have a mix of offices, restaurants, a top-class hotel, luxury apartments and a public viewing platform at the top.
Check out some of these shots which show you some amazing views of London and bear in mind these photos (by TTMP’s very own Amy Stephens, taken on her phone just before she unfortunately smashed it) are only from half way up the building.
And believe me, even at that height on a cold wintry day, the wind fairly whips through you. I was full of admiration for the people working up there every day in the open air, doing sometimes fairly intricate work, high above London. Everyone takes Health and Safety very seriously and I was overjoyed (here we go… Ed) to discover they have a special hard hat (yes, he’s off again. Ed) with chin strap to stop it blowing off your head and spinning off across the skyline.
You can see The Tate Modern Project in the distance (we look quite small from here) and also if you look at the green structure in the foreground you can see the new railway extension snaking its way across the historic Borough Market towards London Bridge.
This is all important stuff of course. It’s helping bolster the image of our nation’s capital (with the London 2012 Olympic Games approaching fast), London Bridge and Bankside. The rail and bus station will be much improved as a result, there will be new jobs and everyone’s a winner, yes?
But here’s the thing. Not everyone is convinced by all of these massive developments and the tens of thousands of additional people coming to work and visit the area every day will, while of course bringing great economic benefits, also present huge challenges to the infrastructure of the area and the very character that makes it such an appealing place to live in, work at and visit. That’s all the things we take for granted in our everyday lives - not too much litter, being able to get a seat in a cafe, find an open space to meet and sit in the summer (remember summer ?) and finding your way through the narrow streets around Borough Market.
Which, in a long-winded way, brings me back to TTMP. When we started our project in the late 1990s we became central to the regeneration of this part of London, which continues today. That’s an ongoing commitment. A modern museum, like Tate, needs to play a wider role in the city, beyond being a visitor attraction, to make sure we keep the good and unique nature of the area that brought us here in the first place. You can find out more about some of this work we are involved in with others who live and work in the area at Better Bankside and here Bankside Urban Forest.
Coming soon - who is this man?
What is he doing and how does it connect to The Tate Modern Project?