With the 2012 Olympics taking place in London for a record third time, the city clearly has a boost in tourism and attention. London is home to many things; the Queen, fish and chips, crummy weather, double decker red buses, telephone booths, those guards in front of Buckingham Palace that don’t budge… the list is endless. This wonderful city is also home to some magnificently designed buildings. Here’s Redesign’s top 5 coolest buildings in London.
1. 30 St. Mary Axe
This building sort of looks like a gigantic grenade, but it’s cool nonetheless. It is known as The Gherkin and, formerly, the Swiss Re Building. It is known as the “Gherkin” (a pickled cucumber) due to its unorthodox layout and appearance. It is located in London’s financial district and was completed in May 2004.
The 41 floors serve as businesses made out of the 260,000 square feet of glass in the shape of triangular panes. The building is 591 feet tall and is a prime example of modern architecture. The Gherkin is also noted for its sustainable architecture and structural expressionism.
It kind of has a phallic look to it….so you can imagine the nicknames this building has. You can get inside this building on the first floor bar; otherwise it’s not for the public.
Location: 30 St Mary Axe, City of London, EC3, UK United Kingdom
2. Container City
Container City looks like something a 7-year-old would have constructed out of his LEGO set (speaking of LEGOs, you should check out this cool LEGO Bridge in Germany).
This method of construction can be found around London, the first being “Container City I” located at Trinity Buoy Warf in the heart of London’s Docklands. The purpose of the first Container City was for providing 12 work studios. Container City is noted for being very cost effective as well as environmentally friends — over 80% of the building was created out of recycled material.
Location: Trinity Buoy Wharf, London E14 0JW
3. Lloyd’s Building
I personally think this building looks like the inside of a factory. It is known as the “Inside-Out Building” and is the home of the insurance institution Lloyd’s of London. It was completed in 1986, and the total project cost $107 million to build. The building was influenced by the work of Archigram (an avant-garde architectural group) from the 1950s.
The 12 glass elevators were the first of their kind in the United Kingdom. This building is noted for its innovative decision to have its services, like staircases, elevators, electrical power conduits and water pipes, on the outside of the building, leaving the inside space uncluttered on the inside. There are 3 main towers and 3 service towers.There are 14 floors and the building is 289 feet tall.
Fun fact: the building has been used for location for films like Mamma Mia! (2008) and A Good Year (2006).
Location: 1 Lime Street, London, EC3M 7HA, UK
4. The O2 Arena
The O2 Arena, or “Bubble” or “Millennium Dome” or “North Greenwich Arena,” is located in the center of The O2, a large entertainment complex on the Greenwich Peninsula. From the outside the O2 arena looks like a UFO with gigantic sticks out of it. Construction was completed in 2007 with massive seating arrangements throughout the entire space — there is a 20,000 total seating capacity! Sporting and entertainment events also take place in the arena. It is the world’s largest dome and is built on the meridian line in Greenwich.
Location: Greenwich Peninsula, Southeast London
5. British Telecom Tower
The British Telecom Tower is a 581 foot communications tower. The building is quite old for its modern style, which was completed in 1964. The tower is still a site for UK communications with broadcasting traffic.
The building has two high speed elevators, which reach the top of the building in less than 30 seconds. There is also a 360-degree colored lighting display at the top of the tower that makes the tower clearly visible in the London skyline at night.
Fun fact: Until the mid-1990s, the building was officially a secret, and would not even appear on official maps. The BT Tower has also appeared in many pieces of fiction, including Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, where Harry is spotted flying over the tower in a Ford Anglia with Ron.
Location: 60 Cleveland Street, Fiztrovia, London W1T 4JZ
So if you’re lucky enough to be in London for the 2012 Olympics, and even luckier to have some free time outside of the Games, check out these awesome buildings in the city!
Featured image courtesy of Garry Knight via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).