Address: 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP

Phone: 0207 071 5029

Entry Information:Not open to the public

350m from Fenchurch Street

400m from Aldgate

Originally called the Swiss Re building and today officially known as 30, St Mary Axe, The Gherkin has the stature and design to be an instantly recognisable feature of the City skyline. It was built on the site of the old Baltic Exchange, a building that suffered bomb damage in 1992, and it was designed by Norman Foster. It’s the second tallest building in the City area and the sixth tallest in London. The building is three times the height of the Niagara Falls and it’s circumference at the widest point is only two metres less than its height.

The building was commissioned by the aforementioned reinsurance company Swiss Re and opened in May 2004. It cost £91m for the land and £47m for the building. They sold it in 2007 to IVG and Evans Randall.

It was originally designed to be the 386m Millennium Tower, but after various objections it were scaled down and this 180m tall, 41 floor building received approval. A key part of the design and planning application were the environmentally friendly features that are incorporated in the design. Artificial lighting is minimised by the maximum use of daylight. Wind pressure is used in air conditioning and sunlight is harnessed for winter heating. Gas is the main source of fuel, being the cleanest option. It has 16 lifts which can travel up to six metres per second.

The building is of a curved design but the only curved glass is on the dome at the top. There is a bar and restaurant for tenants and guests on the top floor, the highest in London, and this gives a 360 degree view of the capital. This is available for hire in the evenings.

The building itself is not open to the public, but the plaza on the ground floor is. The principal tenants are Swiss Re and the firm of Kirkland and Ellis.

The Gherkin is one of the most recognisable landmarks in central London and its image is synonymous with the financial district.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.