30 St Mary Axe

In 2021 London’s skyline is full of crazy shapes, but in 2003 Norman Foster’s building was a shocking new arrival. Formally it’s 30 St Mary Axe (the street name), but “Erotic Gherkin” is surely the most memorable name.

Curiously there’s only one piece of curved glass in the whole place – the centre piece at the very top of the tower. The rest are all flat panels, which seems surprising unless you have a feeling for geometry. It’s also “naturally ventilated”, which to me is a cheap excuse for not putting proper air-conditioning in. (This is common in modern British buildings and seems to please most people…after all, not only is it more “green”, but British people in general have no feeling for what it is to be properly cool and fresh. Personally I like my office icy cold with a breeze blowing through, but I’m strange like that!)

If you think there’s a connection with London City Hall, there is – Norman Foster did that one too. And the British Museum’s Great Court, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Ah well, if an idea works…

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on the Gherkin. The article used to include some even naughtier names, but they seem to have been removed!