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The Shard: fascinating facts

14 January 2013 ( 25 March 2021 )

Towering ambitions to visit the top of The Shard can be fulfilled now that it is open. We rise to the occasion with a lowdown on London’s tallest building.

The Shard
The Shard, London's tallest building

The Shard in London, which opened to the public in February 2013, is one of London's most recognisable buildings. It's not only the tallest building in London, it's also the tallest building in the UK and the seventh tallest building in Europe (after buildings in St Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw).

The distinctive glass spire towers over over Southwark and is easily visible from up to 40 miles away. In the UK only the transmission tower at Emley Moor stands taller, at 1,083 ft (330m).

How high is The Shard?

The Shard is 309.4m (1,016ft) high, making it the tallest building in the UK.

How many floors are in The Shard?

There are 96 levels in The Shard, 72 of which are habitable. The 'spire' is made up of 23 levels, with 17 open to the elements.

Who designed The Shard?

The architect in charge of The Shard was Renzo Piano. The Italian born architect is also known for Centre Pompidou in Paris (with Richard Rogers), the Whitney Museum in New York and the Biosphere in Genoa. He started working on The Shard in 2000.

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How much did it cost to build The Shard?

Construction costs were around £435m.

How long did it take to build The Shard?

The building work started in March 2009 and was completed on July 5 2012, taking just over three years to build.

Who owns The Shard?

The Shard is owned by the State of Qatar (95%) and Sellar Property Group (5%).

What is in The Shard?

The Shard contains 10 residential apartments, 26 floors of offices, three levels of restaurants and 19 floors of hotel accommodation, the Shangri-La. The top of The Shard hosts public viewing galleries, with The View from The Shard on the highest habitable levels. Brands with offices inside The Shard include Tiffany & Co, Al Jazeera, Kraft Heinz and Gallup.

How much does an apartment in The Shard cost?

At time of completion in 2012 the approximate price of each of the ten apartments between the 53rd and 65th floors was £50m, although they did not sell as fast as initially expected because of a slowing down of the London property market and ended up sitting empty for many years. The Shard contains the highest residences in Europe, with the penthouse a whopping 735ft high, and on a clear day it even has sea views.

How far away can you see The Shard from?

You can see The Shard from 40 miles away, from the South Downs to the Thames Estuary.

Building The Shard

Award-winning Italian architect Renzo Piano designed The Shard to be a ‘vertical city’ and building it used: 

  • 11,000 glass panels on the outside, which is equal to eight football pitches.
  • 54,000 m3 of concrete, which is equivalent to 22 Olympic swimming pools
  • The total piles supporting the building would measure 13.7km if laid end to end.
  • Inside The Shard there are 44 lifts and 306 flights of stairs.
  • 95% of the construction materials are recycled.

The Shard filming locations

The Shard has featured in multiple film and TV shows, including Doctor Who episode The Bells of Saint John, Spider-Man: Far From Home and The Snowman and the Snowdog.

Visit The Shard's page to find out more and see inside

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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