This is the sketchbook for the Shard. Here you can see how the illustration was created from the original photos to the final print. You'll also find out some more about the building itself and its history.

A new skyscraper

The Shard is the newest building in our London series. Construction of the 87-storey skyscraper began in March 2009 and the building was completed in March 2012.

The Shard is about 306 metres (1,004 ft) high and is currently the tallest building in the European Union. It is the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the concrete tower at the Emley Moor transmitting station.

The tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and an open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor.

An entrepreneur with a plan

It all started with a slightly crazy plan. In 1998, London-based entrepreneur Irvine Sellar and his then partners decided to redevelop Southwark Towers following a UK government white paper encouraging the development of tall buildings at major transport hubs.

An architect with a contempt for tall buildings

Sellar met up with Italian architect Renzo Piano in 2000. Interestingly Piano didn't really like conventional tall buildings and spoke of his contempt of them. But during the meeting, which took place in a restaurant, Piano sketched a pyramid-like structure emerging from the Thames on the restaurant's menu. Apparently he had been inspired by the railway lines next to the site, the London spires depicted by the 18th-century Venetian painter Canaletto and the masts of sailing ships.

Lots and lots of funding

The building was granted planning permission in 2006 and the same year Sellar and his partners secured an interim funding package of £196 million. This just about covered their costs so far.

In September 2007, preparations for the demolition of Southwark Towers, which had stood on the site previously, began. Then the financial crash came. However in 2008 Sellar secured funding from a consortium of Qatari investors who paid £150 million to secure an 80 percent stake in the project. Early in 2009 site preparation began for the construction of the Shard.

Architecture and criticism

Not everyone was wild about the new building. The design met criticism from English Heritage, who claimed the building would be "a shard of glass through the heart of historic London", giving the building its name, The Shard.


Base jumping off the Shard

It's perhaps no surprise that even early on the building attracted its fair share of dare-devils. In December 2011, a group calling themselves Place Hackers got past the building's security and made their way to the top of the building site. They weren't the only ones breaking into the site. Apparently climbing the Shard was pretty popular in the urban exploring community and over 20 urban explorers had made their way to the top of the building during its construction.

Some of the urban explorers also base jumped from the building. The highest jump was said to have been from a height of 850 feet (260 m). In November 2012, the French urban climber Alain Robert was spotted in the building by security guards. At the end of the month, the Shard's owners won an injunction to prevent him from entering or climbing the building.

Our illustration

Here you've been able to see our design process of the Shard print. As with the other illustrations Gerry starts out with taking several photographs that are then traced on a computer to make the final print.

The final version of the Shard print is available as a the t-shirt in white and grey and as a signed and numbered silk screen print.

How to get to the Shard

Joiner St, London, Greater London SE1 9SP

The Shard is one of the easiest buildings in our London series to get to. It's just next to London Bridge station, which is on the Northern and Jubilee Lines as well as a hub for several buses.