The Garden Guide

Swiss Re Plaza

The gherkin-shaped building is much discussed and much admired. The space created at ground level should also be examined. Foster's website states (2005) that 'the slimming of its profile towards the base maximises the public realm at ground level. Environmentally, its profile reduces the amount of wind deflected to the ground compared with a rectilinear tower of similar size, helping to maintain pedestrian comfort at street level'. In fact, the only good experience at ground level is by tipping one's head backwards at maximum inclination. Otherwise, the plaza is cold, windswept, blank and troubled by ghostly reflections. An outdoor café has been formed but the main use of the space is refugee smoking. The wind makes the fags incandescent, reducing nicotine intake and the duration of tobacco breaks. [Foster's plaza at Tower Place is altogether more creditable]
Photograph ©
Photograph ©

30 St Mary Axe, London, Greater London, England

All year. Daily.


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