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.

Hotel Lobby area
Hotel Lobby area


View from Shard - Hotel level
View from Shard, Hotel level

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.

View of Tate Modern and surrounding area from the Shard
View of Tate Modern and surrounding area from the Shard


View of Borough from the Shard
View of Borough from the Shard

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?

Who is this man
Who is this man?

What is he doing and how does it connect to The Tate Modern Project?



well thanks Hal ,now come on bite some ankles dude !

deirdre mcardle

well done Will Self on Stockwell Bus Garage at Academy last night !!


We the people cant see how London can ever be a good place to live, the council houses and the slum dwellings are stocked with outraged poverty cases which sooner or later has to kick off

the poverty in London is increasingly chronic and buildings like the Shard are great but there's far too many poor people living in slum housing

its too little too late and I sense that the streets of Londonwill need to be heavily policed to stop the poor fighting for food, housing and education.

deirdre mcardle

yeah yeah,we need the money etc (still sucks) .

deirdre mcardle

The Shard sucks! men are mad.Stevie rocks,now there's black!

deirdre mcardle

but it is exactly for many of those reasons that the Shard is not great.Developers rule,profits are all,and now the construction industry is in trouble.The profit margins were enormous with modern building methods and the value per sq.ft. for central London space.Investors that share- profits used to go to have moved to new pastures,plenty of pickings in the global economy,London was not planned around 'the people' we need good urban planners that are not in the back pocket of developers.