IT used to be said inSixty years after building began, the “palace” – actually an exhibition centre and office block – still dominates the skyline of
Warsaw that the best view in Poland
was to be had from the top of the and Science.
It was the only place from which you couldn’t see the Palace
and Science. Palace of Culture
The building was an unwanted “gift” to them from “the people of the
As such, it was a colossal symbol of
If I were a Londoner, especially one from the poorer south side of the river, I’d feel much the same way about the latest excrescence to blot the city’s skyline.
After the grand official opening of the Shard last week, mayor Boris Johnson was enthusing about the view from its 1,000ft summit.
I suspect his claim that you could see
Apart from anything else, it’s one place in
Now, I’m not an architecture snob of the Prince Charles variety. I like
But there is something aggressive about the Shard. An offensive “up yours” quality not only to its pointy appearance but to its very existence on its particular site.
Piano was called in to give celebrity-architect status to the plan for a monster skyscraper rising from the downtrodden streets of Southwark.
None of the locals wanted it there. The local authorities and heritage organisations all opposed it. John Prescott, then deputy prime minister, over-ruled their objections on the grounds of Piano’s “exceptional design”.
So there it now is, western Europe’s tallest building, nearly twice the height of the Gherkin, towering imperiously over the city.
The Shard doesn’t look like a
And that, indeed, is exactly what it is. Not an English building but a Qatari one – 95 per cent owned by the tiny but oil-rich emirate.
The get-rich-quick dominated by the get-richer-quicker.
Perhaps significantly, the Shard isn’t in the City. Its big feet are planted in relatively poor soil on the other side of the river. But – just like its close relatives in the Gulf – it won’t be much inhabited by the poorer people in whose midst it has been set.
The only working-class Londoners ever likely to enter its 72 habitable floors will be those who clean its floors, empty its bins and fix its lifts. They may serve in its five-star hotel and starred restaurant, but not eat or sleep there.
The view from its £50million penthouse flats stretches to the sea to both south and east. All of
I wouldn’t mind having a look out from the Shard’s observation deck, 800ft up (below the posh flats), but at £25 a go it’s a bit steep for me.
That ticket price is either (a) a way of keeping the plebs out, (b) a way of moving money from poor pockets to rich ones, or (c) both.
A perfect example of capitalism, in fact.
The foreign-backed capitalism that now looms over
So that’s why it’s called a court
WELL done, Andy Murray. Even if he couldn’t quite finish the job against arguably the best player the world has seen, he did enough to prove that the country that invented tennis and still hosts its premier tournament isn’t always and inevitably useless at it.But if you ever wanted to know why
Enjoying the best seats in the house, and the deference of those around them, were one prince, one princess, a duke, two duchesses, a viscount, a viscountess, three ladies, a lord, three knights and an excellency. And you thought this was a democracy.