I have to say I really really really think the Skyline of the City of London along River Thames is getting stranger and stranger… First of all, the Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe), which I love its shape, was once standing on its own by the river and now the pickle is overshadowed by a bunch of skyscrapers that built around and after it – is only a few years! Second of all, the new skyscrapers are somehow in a modern and weird shape that doesn’t very much go with the classical European buildings. For example, the Cheesegrater (122 Leadenhall street) that’s ginormous, and the Walkie Talkie building (20 Frenchchurch Street), a curvy skyscraper that’s kind of untraditional. As the building goes up, it grows larger and larger and it looks like the top part is “swollen” and larger than the lower part of its body. I appreciate the beauty of modern architecture and I like to go high, however, I always think unique and special skyscraper should stand on its own instead of next to each other.
As a matter of fact, it’s not just me! it’s on the BBC! Until lately, I finally got a YouTube video that kind of explain why London’s Skyscrapers are oddly shaped – check it out:
Anyway… it turns out that the roof of the Walkie-Talkie building is actually quite special. It is constructed like a giant greenhouse for the public to enjoy and appreciate the magnificent view of the city of London. More, it’s free!
When I heard of a “sky garden”, I always go back and imagine the ancient wonders – the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Although the concept of building gardens in buildings is not exactly new, I do think it is a renewed trend in modern architecture to bring greenness to the urban space. To prepare for the visit, visitors are needed to register and pick a time slot at http://skygarden.london/ – I am a typical type-A personality and I must plan plan plan … Not sure if they accept any walk-ins, my guess is very much unlikely. Bookings for the Sky Garden are free and only allow bookings 2 weeks in advance. You could imagine it fills up pretty fast (especially the sunset period). The process of booking the visit, yet, is quite simple and easy. Follow the steps and you should get the tickets without any hassle.
Remember to print out the tickets (the pdf files with a barcode) after receiving the registration email. There’s a security check upon arrival and facial ID is required for the registration (wow that serious). But other than that, the sky garden is only one elevator ride away.
One side is an outdoor balcony facing the river Thames. The shard is right there directly on the opposite side of the bank. I was (again) very very VERY lucky to visit the Sky Garden on a gorgeous summer day, the entire London is clear to view and I looked all the way to the Westminster and beyond.
The bar was just right there in the middle of the front part of the open space and lots of people were having a great time enjoying the view, drinks, and sunlight~ (There’s even band music @ night!) The steps went up on both sides of the bar and it was the “jungle” with seating areas and plants. 🙂 The upper part of the sky garden has no open balcony but rather, a spacious open space. Trust me, for a busy, bustling urban people… sometimes space is the only thing you need.
(The Sky Garden is also very close to London’s icon, the Tower of London and Tower bridge!)