On Thursday, the new 72-story skyscraper, the Shard will have its grand opening in London, with the prime minister of Qatar flying over especially and Prince Andrew and several other foreign dignitaries attending a classy dinner party. There will also be an extravagant laser show for Londoners not lucky enough to get an invite to the prestigious event!
At 1,017 feet, the Shard is Europe’s tallest tower and already dictates the London skyline, making everything else around it look insignificant and miniscule. 95% of the Shard is owned by the government of Qatar and developer Irvine Sellar claims that it will be similar to a “virtual town” – which will include a five-star hotel and several Michelin starred restaurants. It will also include 10 flats that will go on sale for between £30m and £50m each.
Sellar was quoted in the Guardian as saying that the price of the flats means that there is probably a maximum of 50 buyers the world over who would be able to afford their massive price. He said it would be unlikely they would market them, rather that the agents would just telephone these potential buyers.
The Guardian’s Aditya Chakrabortty said the Shard being “expensive, off-limits and owned by foreign investors” meant that it presented the “perfect metaphor for modern London.”
He points out that this building is representative of the changing nature of investment in the UK capital, how it is “becoming more unequal and dangerously dependent on hot money.”
He points out that the Shard was built despite the threat it could pose to the world-heritage status of the nearby Tower of London and irrespective of protests from local residents and conservation groups.
Ironically, this state of the art skyscraper, which is lavishly expensive and extravagant, is located in an area which is well-known for being a place of some of the worst deprivation and highest unemployment rates in the entire city.
According to Chakrabortty, the Shard is a “Tower of the 1%” meaning that only the richest of the rich will be able to have anything at all to do with it. It also supports the research from Cambridge University which showed that 52% of the City’s offices are held by foreign investors and this number is constantly increasing. Chakrabortty said: “the giddy combination of overseas cash and heavy borrowing leaves London in a very precarious position. Another credit crunch, or a meltdown elsewhere in the world, would now almost certainly have big knock-on effects in the capital.”
The Shard is The Perfect Metaphor for Modern London (Via Guardian)