30 St Mary Axe Skyscraper

30 St Mary Axe Skyscraper

The world famous skyscraper St Mary Axe, which stands in the downtown of London, was built right at the place of the Baltic Exchange destroyed in 1992 by the gunmen of the Irish Republican Army. Due to the shape of the construction and the greenish glass of the building face, the skyscraper earned the nickname “cucumber”. The tower was built in 2004 under the project of a well-known English architect Norman Foster, author of numerous unique projects famous all over the world, at the commission of Swiss Reinsurance Company. Even being still unfinished it already became one of the main sights of the British capital.

Norman Foster was planning to build the highest European skyscraper at this very place back in 1994. He presented his project to the Town Planning Council in London under the name “the Millennium Tower”. However the British organization “English Heritage”, protecting monuments and historic buildings, demanded to reduce the height of the structure. The project was delayed. In 1997 a company from Switzerland named “Swiss Re” bought this area out and, following the advice of the city administration, addressed Norman Foster asking him to develop a new project of the tower. The architect reduced the height of the skyscraper twice but the project was criticized anyway. Nevertheless, it was finally approved and the construction of Mary Axe was started.

After all disputes, fierce criticism and complicated work the 80 meters “cucumber” tower finally grew in the downtown of London. The round building, with its foundation 49 meters wide, is expanding to its midpoint being 57 meters wide at the height of the seventeenth floor. Then it becomes only narrower making the whole construction look like a cucumber. It is the first green skyscraper of such a height. Its aerodynamic shape prevents excessive formation of clouds and air eddy making the wind go round the building in a natural way. The structure significantly improves the microclimate in the nearby areas and creates additional comfort for pedestrians.

The air moving around the faces of the building creates constant pressure difference and provides natural ventilation.

The 40-storey skyscraper which is also known as the Gherkin, is not only the “Swiss Re” headquarters. An open public zone is located in the lower floors of the building: it represents the plaza for everyone who works in the neighborhoods. Restaurants for the company guests and its personnel are located higher. From the upper store of the building, covered with a glass dome, opens a wonderful panorama of the British capital. This skyscraper is really unique in terms of the architecture and technologies applied. It represents the perfection of the architectural plan of Norman Foster.

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