Last night, central London was turned, if only briefly, into a cyberpunk dystopian metropolis--a shade of Blade Runner here, Coruscant there--all to commemorate the opening of the Shard, Renzo Piano's dreadfully atavistic and curiously authoritarian skyscraper. Rising 1,016 feet above south London's low-lying urbanscape, the Shard is--lest you forget--Western Europe's tallest skyscraper, officially a "marvel of engineering" and a "quite astonishing piece of architecture"; unofficially, a jarring and unavoidable $2.35 billion blot on the city skyline. Many have noted how the structure was funded nearly entirely by the Qatar Investment Group (see Artinfo's piece on the subject from yesterday), and the tower does indeed carry a sinister aura about it, surely do to its massive cyclopean form as much as its corporate provenance. Yesterday's razzmatazz was to be expected then, a monumental absurdest pat-on-the-back from the Shard's financiers and London officials who saw the project through any potential and real public or litigation hurdles. Still, they must have realized the uncanny resemblance between the lightning-ridden tower, with laser beams cast from its pinnacle and mid-section, and the Tower of Barad-dûr, crowned by the sleepless, all-seeing eye of Sauron. There's something to be found there, but it's too early in the morning.
Photo: Ruaridh Connellan/Barcroft Med
Photo: Jeff Moore
All photos via The Daily Mail