The Shard - Thomas Graham- Arup; The Shard - Thomas Graham- Arup;

The Shard, London

The Shard: making Western Europe’s tallest building even larger

The Shard stands on London’s South Bank as an antidote to the rectilinear aesthetics of many tall buildings in the City. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, its 310m spire-like sculptural form is Western Europe’s tallest building. It is significant for much more than its height. It stands as an inspiration, proving that densely-packed, low-energy, mixed-use development can be achieved without architectural compromise.

Project Summary

310m tall

11,000 façade glass panels or ‘shards’, equivalent to eight football pitches

The space challenge

The constantly varying geometrics of the Shard’s spire-like form and the need for dedicated, high-speed evacuation lifts would all challenge the position and delivery of the building’s services.

Specifically, ever-decreasing floor plate sizes would demand extremely compact designs for plant, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

Thinking small

Our founder Ove Arup advocated total architecture, where all elements of a structure are considered together. For the Shard, we followed this principle in microcosm, coordinating all of the inputs into the plantrooms’ design to create the most compact, integrated solution.

What may sound like a technical achievement for mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers also had huge commercial significance. Reducing the space needed for plant created much more lettable space for the many residents, offices, restaurants and retailers at The Shard.  It would be a critical factor in proving the business case that allowed The Shard to rise out of the ground at all.

Anticipating change

The Shard was designed between 2000 and 2002. In 2003, London would introduce the first prescriptive planning policy that required a percentage of a building’s energy needs to be met by on-site renewable sources. Aware new legislation was coming, our team anticipated these demands. Our inclusion of a controlled heat and power plant would act as a mini on-site generator, making sure the new building would be fully compliant by the time construction started. 

Legislation never stands still and only becomes more exacting. With its façade of 11,000 glass ‘shards’, the building would create high levels of solar heat gain. Intelligent design of this façade was key to reducing the building’s use of energy. From triple-skin glazing to ventilated cavities housing solar-controlled blinds, we were able to anticipate the 25% reduction in energy stipulated by new Building Regulations in 2006. The façade performs so well, it even complied with tougher legislation introduced in 2010, proving that full glass façades and energy efficiency can co-exist in great design.


Shaping a better world

Founded by Sir Ove Arup, we are firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists all focused – like our work at 52 Lime Street – on shaping a better world.

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