As London’s skyline changes at a rapid pace, we look at five of the most famous skyscrapers in London and the history behind the buildings.

The Gherkin:

Affectionately known as The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe is one of the most famous buildings in London. Construction of the building was completed in December 2003 and opened in April 2004. Famous for its unusual shape, the curve in the building was designed to maximise the amount of office space available due to the limited space which buildings in the City of London have. The building uses advanced energy saving methods and consumes just half the resources of another similar sized building. These green credentials have further cemented the building as one of the most popular on the London skyline.

The Cheesegrater:

The Leadenhall Building, also known as The Cheesegrater, was constructed in 2014 and gets its distinctive wedge shape due to the necessity of protecting views from nearby St Paul’s Cathedral. It was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and has fast become one of the most distinctive towers in London. The Cheesegrater is part of a growing trend for tall London buildings, with more and more being constructed in both Central and Outer London. Having recently been purchased by Chinese property developer CC Land for £1.15bn, it is just one of many flagship purchases by foreign investors in Central London.

The Walkie Talkie:

One of the skyscrapers which is less popular with most Londoners is 20 Fenchurch Street, dubbed the Walkie Talkie. Designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly it is designed to maximise space at the top of the building where rents are more expensive. There were many issues with its construction, developers were forced to reduce building size due to the impact which it had on views at St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. The Walkie Talkie also has the dubious honour of winning the Carbuncle Cup for Worst New building in the UK and has been criticised for the way it reflects light at certain times of day, heating the road below. However, the Walkie Talkie has also been praised for its rooftop bar and restaurant, the Sky Garden, which has iconic views all over London. The building was recently purchased for £1.3bn by Hong Kong food company Lee Kum Kee Groups.

The Shard:

The tallest building in London is The Shard, constructed in 2012 it broke a number of records, many of which it still retains. It was the tallest building in Europe until 2013 and is still the tallest building in Western Europe, with the only taller buildings being located in Moscow. The Shard is also the second tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom after the Emley Moor transmitting station located in West Yorkshire. The Shard was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and was developed by Sellar Property Group. It is owned jointly by Sellar Property who have a 5% stake and the State of Qatar who have a 95% stake in the skyscraper.

One Canada Square:

Famous for its pyramid-shaped roof, unlike the rest of the skyscrapers in this list, One Canada Square is not located in the City of London. Constructed in London’s other renowned financial district, Canary Wharf. It was once the tallest building in London from 1990 until it was surpassed by The Shard. Designed by Argentinian American architect Cesar Pelli, it is unusual for a London building as unlike most buildings it features a flashing aircraft warning light. It is primarily used for offices with some retail space on the lower floors and is owned by British Land, one of the largest UK property developers.

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