The Gherkin

The Gherkin is one of the most dominant features on the London skyline. Putting up a glass tower in an ancient city, surrounded by wonderful stone architectural masterpieces is a bit of a job. One can expect a bit of opposition. But the architects, Norman Foster and co, who designed the Gherkin really nailed it. Not just in my opinion. It’s a serial award winner. A new building had to go up anyway – the huge IRA bomb that destroyed the previous occupant of that bit of London real estate pretty much determined that.

The building isn’t really called the Gherkin of course. Although the reason for the nickname is obvious. Others do sometimes refer to it as the Dildo, but that’s never really stuck. It is also often called the Swiss Re Tower, although it is no longer officially known by that name – no need for anyone to note that I have used that moniker to label my photo set on Flickr. I just can’t be bothered to change it. But anyway. Today the building is simply called 30 St Mary Axe.

The design is fabulous. The shape makes it stand out, and it remains aesthetically superior to the copy cat gherkins – the hideous Barcelona one in particular. The swirling black bands also add appeal. And the design of the glass panels catches the sun and the eye. But I have one complaint. There’s no public viewing platform. Still, I took photos from around the bottom. Click here to see them on Flickr.


4 thoughts on “The Gherkin

  1. Kim G says:

    In 1969, when construction of the Transamerica Pyramid began in San Francisco, there was considerable protest. People hated it.

    Now? It’s one of the iconic features of San Francisco’s skyline and much loved.

    Often new designs take a bit of getting used to. I think that’s what’s happened with the Gherkin.

    Maybe with your Mexican connections, you could start a campaign to re-nickname it “The Burrito” or “The Churro.”


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the reverse seems to have happened a few times, particularly with a building called “City Hall.”


    • If I remember rightly, Paris thoroughly despised that piece of giant iron mecchano known as the Eiffel Tower when it first poked its metal beak above the skyline. It’s an occupational hazard of building modern in the midst of history.

      I probably – almost definitely – overplayed there being opposition to the Gherkin. When I thought about it, I couldn’t recall any great opposition, other than from those who felt the ruins of the old Baltic Exchange were written off and carted off too quickly.

      A quick hunt back in time suggests the Gherkin had the general thumbs up from most people….



  2. Andean says:

    Somehow it reminds me of a submarine.
    I’m sure those glass panels really catch the eye when seen in person during the day. The tower at night must be pretty spectacular, like many of the NYC buildings.


    • I like it at night, set as the backdrop behind the illuminated St Pauls Cathedral.

      And it does have something of a marine look to it, now you mention it. Perhaps that’s just as well, given what the future may hold for the city…


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