Qatar-funded Shard opens for public viewing

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

A marriage proposal, strange similes and a stunning panorama marked the public opening of the viewing deck for western Europe's tallest tower on a wet Friday in London.

The Shard skyscraper was described as an "intergalactic spear" and a "cocktail stick" by charismatic Mayor Boris Johnson, who cut the ribbon for the first public visitors atop the 310-metre futuristic tower looming over London bridge.

One visitor chose the moment to propose to his girlfriend of five years.

"It sounds corny but she makes me feel like I'm on top of the world so I thought the highest place in London has got to be the best place to do it," a smiling James Episcopou, 22, told reporters.

His fiancée, Laura Taylor, 22, said it had been a complete surprise.

"I just feel overwhelmed, surprised and the view is fantastic. It doesn't matter that it's raining."

The Shard is majority owned by Qatar and houses a premium hotel, several restaurants, 12 floors of apartments , 600,000 square feet of office space as well as the viewing deck.

It is part of a £2bn redevelopment of the London Bridge area on the south bank of the River Thames, which cuts through the British capital.

"All other buildings look like they've been put on the earth by people, but the Shard is like something that is prodding up," Johnson said.

"Prodding up through the frail integuments of the planet, like an intergalactic spear. It's like the tip of a cocktail stick emerging through the skin of a super colossal pickled onion."

The Shard which has been 13 years in the planning, struggled with financing after the 2008 credit crunch until the Qataris rescued the project, and the developers have been criticised for not being able to rent out the space.

However, Irvine Sellar, the Shard's developer told Reuters 30 percent of the tower had already been leased and said he remained confident and optimistic.

"It's a vertical town and it takes time to rent. It may take 18 months to let," he said.

"All the retail is let, the hotel is let, the restaurants are leased, the viewing gallery is leased and some of the office space is leased."

However, local residents and business owners have mixed feelings about the new tower, worrying that the influx of London's elite will transform the area.

Terry Davies, who runs a German delicatessen in the nearby Borough Market, which traces its roots back to the 11th century, said the Shard threatens his business and the market as a whole.

"The area's already changed a lot and it's possible the Shard will be good for the area but we might be seeing the end of the community market," he told Reuters.

"It's all about balance. If the rents  go up by 50 percent, as they're threatening to do, then we can't survive. That's when the chains like Pret A Manger move in and the whole area changes".

K Patel, who owns a local newsagent, agreed.

"It's a nice building don't get me wrong, but it would be better if it didn't put up the rent."

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Do celebrity branded projects ever work?

Do celebrity branded projects ever work?

The long list of celebrity-endorsed real estate developments...

Is this the end of the Gulf’s Indian cash dash?

Is this the end of the Gulf’s Indian cash dash?

From currency woes to taxation loopholes closing and a clampdown...

Mall talk

Mall talk

Plans for Dubai’s Mall of the World have made headlines all over...

Most Discussed
  • 10
    UAE teens among the highest for obesity rates

    Everyone in UAE knows that biggest is best.

    UAE may not light up the international league tables in standard of living, education standards, press... more

    Friday, 29 August 2014 4:20 PM - Proud UAEer
  • 9
    Saudi Arabia seeks talks on hiring of Sri Lankan maids

    perhaps the unemployed saudi men or the millions of women who are not allowed to work could pick up a broom and start sweeping their own houses. more

    Sunday, 31 August 2014 3:28 PM - nice
  • 9
    Smoke-free Dubai - the big debate

    Surprisingly the only studies that show a negative financial impact of the smoking ban on the hospitality industry are sponsored by tobacco companies ... more

    Wednesday, 27 August 2014 4:19 PM - Telcoguy
  • 24
    World's most pierced man refused entry to the UAE

    Tolerance has its limits everywhere including Dubai and those who considered Dubai a lawless circus were held thank you Dubai authorities... more

    Thursday, 21 August 2014 10:51 PM - Khalil
  • 23
    Baby NOT on board?

    Some of you cry babies need to get your own personal apartments on the plane ! You cry more then the babies I have seen in my travels. LOL more

    Thursday, 28 August 2014 9:10 AM - Jim
  • 21
    Israel “must be punished” over Gaza, says Dubai police chief

    This high moral ground that Mick is talking abt sound very familiar. May I remind Mick that the US & its British ally alone killed over 1 million innocent... more

    Thursday, 7 August 2014 4:12 PM - Mathew