About The Building
Opened at the end of May 2004, 30 St Mary Axe, which is more fondly and popularly called the London Bullet Building, is a 180 m or 591 ft tall structure (compare this with the 828 m tall Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure in the world at present or the Heron Tower, which would become the tallest building in London at 230 m after completion) located in the City of London, London’s prime financial district.
This London skyscraper has been built on the site where the Baltic Exchange building use to stand before parts of it were severely damaged after a bomb explosion in April, 1992. Having a total of 40 floors, the building was commissioned by the global reinsurance giant Swiss Re as the headquarters for their operation in the United Kingdom. The building was resold to IVG Immobilien AG and Evans Randall in 2007 at a whopping GB£630 million.
Though the building has mainly offices of a number of national and multinational corporate giants, there are areas for interest for general public as well. While the topmost floor of this huge structure serves as a bar, the floor below it houses a restaurant. There are three shopping stores and two hotels for accommodation as well.
The building can be seen from as far as 32 km and has been represented in some movies as well. No wonder it has become a defining part of the London skyline and is loved by all the inhabitants of the city and has been re-christened the “Spirit of London”.
The building was architectured by the UK architectural company Foster + Partners, which has completed a number of other steel-and-glass buildings successfully in the past. Norman Foster, who is the chairman of the firm, designed the structure of the 30 St Mary Axe with Ken Shuttleworth and Arup engineers. The structure was erected by the main contractors Skanska.
The Environment-Friendly Structure
The reason why this building is famous all over the world is because of its environmental-friendly design. The unique design of the building ensures that it consumes almost 50% less power than a normal office building like this would typically consume. The energy-saving features of the building have brought it a number of laurels and awards including the prestigious and much-coveted Stirling Prize.
The glass façade of the building ensures maximum exploitation of natural daylight, thus reducing the dependence of artificial lights at least during the day, which in turn helps in reducing the need of artificial cooling. The light fittings are also such that they consume less power.
The building has a ventilated double skin outer envelope that helps in ventilation. This lessens the load on the air conditioners leading to more energy conservation. The aerodynamic structure and design of this skyscraper also helps in ventilation. In addition to this, there are blinds placed in the double skin structure that intercept solar heat, which can be put to other usage.
The primary fuel that the building employs is gas, the cleanest of all fuels. Plus, the ventilation system is decentralized which helps in matching the supply with the exact requirements on a per floor basis, instead of a centralized system that would have consumed a lot more power.
The facilities in public transport around the building site discourage the usage of private vehicles for commuting. In addition, the large provision for cycles in the basement encourages the usage of this ecological means of transport. Therefore, from every aspect, the building helps to protect the environment. St Mary Axe is in fact a modern nature-friendly unique towering structure that helps in maintaining the overall ecological balance as well as making the city’s skyline look more beautiful.