Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop between 2000 and 2002, the Shard has become an iconic part of London’s South Bank area. Recognised as Western Europe’s tallest building, the relevance of this structure goes beyond its height. Its 310m spire-like sculptural form turned space design and optimisation into a key construction challenge, and the Shard had to find a partner who could address this issue without altering the original design.

Appointed to provide building engineering services, Arup helped turn its ambitious shape into reality. We integrated all required building services, such as dedicated high-speed evacuation lifts, overcoming the constantly varying geometrics of its spire-like form. We also created extremely compact designs for plant, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, adapting them to fit the ever-decreasing floor plate sizes. Bringing the size of these systems to a minimum also allowed us to create more lettable space for residents, offices, restaurants and retailers alike. Our design not only contributed to The Shard’s iconic visual identity but also to increase its commercial value.

Advocated by our founder Ove Arup, following the total architecture concept was crucial to achieve the architectural vision of The Shard. By carefully considering all elements of the structure, we integrated all building systems into its confined areas, releasing space for other purposes. The Shard stands as an inspiration to world class building design, proving that densely-packed, low-energy, mixed-use development can be achieved without architectural compromise

Anticipating change

In 2003, London introduced the first prescriptive planning policy that required for a percentage of a building’s energy to be met by on-site renewable sources. Aware new legislation was coming, our team anticipated these demands. We integrated a controlled heat and power plant to act as a mini on-site generator, making sure the new building would be fully compliant by the time construction started.

As the building featured a façade of 11,000 glass ‘shards’, the creation of high levels of solar heat gain was also a key concern. From triple-skin glazing to ventilated cavities housing solar-controlled blinds, our design was able to anticipate the 25% reduction in energy stipulated by the upcoming new building regulations in 2006. Also compliant with the additional legislation introduced in 2010, the Shard proves that full glass façades and energy efficiency can co-exist in great design.