The Shard, architect Renzo Piano’s new London building, which has reached its full height the city’s skyline, according to The Guardian, has been accruing the ire of Londoners ever since the design was first spawned 11 years ago. Among the complaints are that it’s too tall, disruptive of historic views and a waste of energy. But to others, it’s a breath of 21st-century air.
In this profile with the 74-year-old architect, Mr. Piano, who wears a T-shirt for the occasion that reads “Trust me, I’m an architect,” responds to some complaints. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
“This building is not made with the intention to be aggressive or powerful,” says Piano. “It is not about priapismo. This building is telling a completely different story. It is celebrating a shift – in the idea that growth in a city should not happen by building more and more on the periphery. This city is one of the first that decided to have a green belt, a clear physical limit; if you have to grow, you grow inside. I’m not an advocate of tall buildings, but I am an advocate of intensifying the city from the inside.”
And yes, says Piano, it had to go here. The Shard may be, at almost 310m, the tallest building in the EU, yet it has just 48 parking spaces – the point being that it sits right by London Bridge station, a major transport hub. “It’s another big shift – to tell people, ‘Look, stop going around in cars.’ In this city, it’s less terrible, but try to do this in Milan. Try to do this in Paris, Los Angeles. Would you expect hostility? Of course. You have to accept as an architect to be exposed to criticism. Architecture should not rely on full harmony. If everyone is agreeing, then you make a big mistake.”
Or just watch this trippy little film, The Shard: A Time-Lapse Study, by Paul Raftery and Dan Lowe: