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What’s the tallest skyscraper in London?
It’s a common question. Skyscrapers compete for height. No sooner is one boasting a record than a new rival it is announced as countries vie against each other to hold the record. It’s the same in major cities across the globe.
Size isn’t everything though. Being the tallest will not last. Inevitably another colossus will be erected to outstrip the previous holder. Eventually there must be a limit, maybe it is the moon but there will be those towers that break the mould. Like the Gherkin, they capture the imagination for more than mere size.
Officially 30 St Mary’s Axe or the Gherkin, is more commonly known for its shape not its height. Although at 180 metres it’s not short by any accounts. From the moment plans were released it was noticed and quickly dubbed the Gherkin.
To emphasise the curves and the twisted diamond pattern they create I chose a close up view for my painting Touching the Sky. And they do look like you could, don’t they?
©2012 – Cathy Read -Touching the sky – Mixed media-75x55cm
The Gherkin is a unique structure with a deceptively simple profile, an impressive feat of engineering and mathematical precision. The way its green glass reflect and distort the surrounding buildings adds to the appeal. Simplicity is often mistaken for easy, but simplicity is the sign of a master. To have such a smooth exterior a lot of work has to go into the design and how to keep it up there.
Why do we find these edifices so mesmeric?
Do they speak to some primitive emotion or desire for height and safety? Personally I think so, I remember gazing in awe at the giant Mill chimneys of my hometown. These are even more awe inspiring, if anything and yet we have become complacent about them. Only noticing when there is a novel shaped addition to the landscape.
The term skyscraper speaks for itself. In an age where they are commonplace it’s hard to imagine the impact they had on the people who first saw them but we can all marvel at designs like this. They appear to be touching the sky and communing with the gods. They are realisations of dreams.
And when we reach the top to see the view. We feel like we are in charge of the world.
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