30 St Mary Axe, commonly known as the Gherkin, was designed by internationally renowned architect, Lord Norman Foster. Opened in 2004 London’s first environmentally sustainable sky-scrapper was constructed for Swiss-Re, the largest re-insurance company in the world.
The Gherkin, which is the sixth tallest building in London, was sold for over £600 million in 2007, making it the most expensive location in Britain to have an office.
Since its completion, 30 St Mary Axe has won many architectural awards including in 2004 the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize and in 2006 the BD World Architecture 200 the ‘most admired new building in the world’.
Built in the heart of the City, Foster’s building is on the sight of London’s historic Baltic Exchange which was severely damaged in 1992. Constructed exactly 100 years before completion of the Gherkin, surviving parts of the Victorian Exchange building were sold and are being re-constructed in Tallinn, the capital of the Baltic country Estonia.
The Baltic Exchange, which trades in the sale of merchant vessels and transportation of industrial bulk commodities, originates back to 1744 and like Lloyd’s of London, was started by ship owners and brokers meeting in a coffee house.
At the top of the Gherkin, on the 40th floor, there is a private bar featuring a 360° panoramic view of London.
Despite the building being rounded, the ‘lens’ shaped glass roof above the bar is the only curved glass in the building and is similar in design to the glass dome which covered part of the ground floor of the old Baltic Exchange.
The smooth clean lines of the building cover a high tech and environmentally designed interior. To reach the roof bar there is a hydraulic lift, pushed from below is does not require any machinery above it.
Double-glazed gaps in each floor create vertical corridors that serve as natural insulation in the winter and ventilation in the summer. This, coupled with all the natural light flooding in through the windows, results in the building needing much less energy.