PIN The Gherkin

A Glittering Presence in the old City

The Gherkin stands out against the London skyline in a most defined manner and is part of today’s city sky line that can be observed from many of the bridges traversing the Thames. Construction was originally commissioned by the Swiss Re, a reinsurance company and then the 41-story skyscraper was built in 2004 after a modern glass and steel design by architects of Foster and Partners.

It was originally known as the Swiss Re Building, and later renamed to “30 St. Mary Axe” after Swiss Re sold the building in 2007. As it was taking shape Londoners christened the building the 'Gherkin' for its distinctive shape, and it is still known by this moniker today.

Sky-scrapers in the City

The tower was built in the heart of the City, London's financial centre at the site of the 1903 Baltic Exchange Building which destroyed by an IRA bomb attack in 1992. The construction of the dark, glittering high-tech sky scraper in the middle of a relatively low-rise area with plenty of historic buildings and narrow medieval streets sparked a new debate about the need for tall buildings in the City of London. But even as many new skyscrapers are now built in Canary Wharf - well outside the EC postcodes - the Gherkin has acted as a fore-runner for the growing cluster of high-rises in the City

The Architecture

The structure has a steel frame with circular floor plans and a glass facade with diamond-shaped panels and can be instantly recognised from afar. The swirling striped pattern visible on the outside is the result of the building's energy efficiency which allows the air to flow up through the wells in the centre of the building.

Outside the building’s base is well integrated with a small public plaza. Large white cross braces create a dramatic entrance to the building. At the top the top of the structure visitors can find an open hall covered by a glass conical dome and the views over London and beyond are spectacular. Although not open to the public there are often events held where visitors often sneak in although security is strong

It is a unique presence in a bustling financial district where it has won many architectural awards such as the Stirling Prize, the London Region Award, and the Emporis Skyscraper Award.

TripTide Thoughts

A fitting memorial to the historic Baltic Exchange - very, very impressive!


  • City Central
  • , landmark


Lucy is a TripTide stalwart and has been with the company since inception. She is a font of knowledge of all things in our metropolis but she has a special penchant for London's historical past. She says:"London is a multi-layered confection of hi...


30 , St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8EP (View on Google Maps)
The Glittering Gherkin

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