The Shard. A boy’s toy.

Architecture inspires. That’s obvious. Thats why people flock to Rome or marvel at St Pauls. Or, in my case, why I love the South Bank and in particular, the Royal Festival Hall.

But my daily train journey through London Bridge station has revealed evidence of another effect new buildings have on the population.

People waiting for trains stand on the platform and take pictures of The Shard currently under construction next door to the London Bridge site. And one look at the view they’re recording makes it easy to understand why.

The Shard

It’s an impressive sight, 70+ floors seemingly poking out from above the rusty coloured walkway. And because it’s only had half it’s cladding put on, there’s a dreamlike quality to what remains of the project. Grown up men stare up at it like it was the toy they always wanted. They strain in their necks remind them how little they look up when they scurrying around the capital. What will it the monster building look like when it’s done. And will we remember what it was like when it wasn’t there?

It’s the same effect the Millenium Wheel had when it was under construction. The River Thames was taken over by a massive framework stretching nearly all the way to Embankment. It all looked weird and enticing. It was begging to be stared at and understood like a more socially acceptable form of car crash. People flocked to Westminster Bridge the day it was elevated. It was a momentous thing.

The same could be said for The Shard. Everyone I know who loves their construction programmes on Discovery speak in the same glowing terms about the build. And when they’re taking their pictures they’re not just recording a moment in time, they’re making a mark in their internal diary for a point in the future when all their dreams come true right before their eyes.

Something to look forward to. Something to feel proud of. Something the vast majority of us have had absolutely no involvement in at all. Our own specially constructed roller coaster waiting to be ridden and marvelled about. Somebody else’s cost that pays for a seemingly acceptable present-day indulgence.

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