Tell Me About The Egg-shaped Building In London (The Gherkin)?


5 Answers

Oscar De La Huerte Profile
Architectural genius or simply an eye-sore on the skyline, the Gherkin is a building that has certainly divided opinion amongst Londoners. Love it or loathe it, the building manages to stand out, even against the colourful and diverse background that is central London.

Before the egg-shaped Gherkin: The Baltic Exchange

The gherkin is the name commonly used to refer to the unusually-shaped skyscraper that stands at 30 St. Mary Axe in the City of London.

The site where this enormous building is now located was previously home to the Baltic Exchange, the facade of which was partially demolished in 1992, when an explosion ripped through the building.

The bomb was attributed to the provisional IRA, and led to the razing of the site in 1998.

Fun facts about the Gherkin: Award winning skyscraper, restaurant and bar.

The consultation and construction of the site spanned a number of years, and the building wasn't fully complete until May 2004. Whilst I could go on for hours about all the ground-breaking architectural feats that the Gherkin represents, here are just a few interesting facts I came across regarding the 591 foot, 41 storey building:
  • The 2000sq metre plaza in front of the building is open to the public, which means you can get up close and personal with the Gherkin
  • The maximum capacity of all the building's lifts is 378 - and they travel at a speedy 6 metres per second!
  • The building is over three times the height of Niagara falls!
  • Over 35km of steel was used in the construction of the building.
  • The Gherkin is home to the highest bar and restaurant in London.
  • 40/30 is the name of the bar and restaurant that sits on the 39th floor. It is available to hire as a venue for functions and events, including for weddings and civil ceremonies.
  • The grave of a teenage Roman girl was found during construction of the site, and now sits at the base of the skyscraper.
  • Popular colloquial names for the Gherkin usually centre around its phallic shape. My favourites are 'The Towering Innuendo' and 'Crystal Phallus'.
Julii Brainard Profile
Julii Brainard answered
The official building name is 30 St. Mary Axe.

It was designed by architects Foster and partners of London. The Gherkin is owned by Swiss Re, a global reinsurer, who occupy offices on floors 2-15; the building may come up for sale soon, at a cool £600 million or so.

It's 40 stories tall, 165 metres to reach the restaurant (the highest in London) on the top floor. The glass cladding on the outside measures 24,000 square metres, and would cover 5 football pitches. The windows are cleaned by hydraulic cherry picker above the 35th story. 10,000 tonnes of structural steel were used in its construction. The lifts move at 6m per sec.

The Gherkin has won at least eleven architectural awards, including in 2004 the Stirling prize (£20,000) by unaminous vote from the Royal Institute of British Architects, for both its internal and external features.

The building was designed to be environmentally friendly. It uses low energy light fittings wherever possible, and the primary heating fuel is gas. There are lightwells to maximise daylight penetration onto each floor. Light and heating levels are adjusted by local sensors. The shape of the building is used to facilitate ventilation.
Ben Will Profile
Ben Will answered
30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin and the Swiss Re
Building, is a skyscraper in London's main financial district, the City of London, completed in December 2003 and opened at the end of May 2004.
With 40 floors, the tower is 180 meters (591 ft) tall, and stands on the former site of the Baltic Exchange building, which was severely damaged on 10 April 1992 by the explosion of a bomb placed by the Provisional IRA.
Richard Marsden Profile
Richard Marsden answered
Visitors to London always view the Gherkin with curiosity. It is London's most distinctive skyscraper, called the Gherkin for obvious reasons linked to its shape. The official name for the building, which is just smaller than the neighbouring Natwest Tower, is 30 St Mary Axe. It was built in 2002-3 and has 41 floors of offices, chiefly housing the reinsurance giant Swiss. The Gherkin is London's first eco-friendly skyscraper, if there is such a notion. The architect, Norman Foster, designed the offices to spiral around internal 'sky gardens'. When the windows are opened, the gardens are used to reprocess stale air, reducing the need for air conditioning devices. The round design of the tower allows more natural light to get into the building meaning less electricity is used.

The building is regarded with fascination by visitors to England's capital. But looking at it is about the only way people are able to admire it, unless they work there. Tours are conducted but are very pricey and the security checks are vigorous.

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