Tuesday, October 31, 2006

London City Hall (GLA Headquaters)

City Hall GLA Headquaters

This photo of the City Hall in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the PanoramicEarth.com Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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City Hall is the home of the Greater London Authority, and is a new building on the Thames situated between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, just a little way down from HMS Belfast. The striking rounded glass building was opened in 2002 and has a very unusual shape, intended in part to increase energy efficiency as well as to provide a striking landmark.

It has been compared to Darth Vader's helmet, a misshapen egg, a woodlouse or a motorcycle helmet. The first occupant, London Mayor Ken Livingstone, must have surely come up with the best one, calling it a "glass testicle". Given the taxes imposed on Londoners during his internship, many may be inclined to go with the Vader Helmet analogy. In fact the building does not belong to the GLA, but is rented on a 25 year lease (at an annual cost of £36.50 per square foot). Next to the City Hall is The Scoop, a sunken oval area used for outdoor displays during the summer.

The interior of City Hall is designed around a magnificent interior ramp down which the people can walk above the debating chamber. It is a 42m high, 10 storey building. Every one of the 3,844 glass panels that make up City Hall is unique and was cut by laser. Norman Foster, one of the principal architects, had previously used the ramp concept in Berlin's Reichstagsgebäude. (Again in a possible farce, this ramp has been likened to that in the penguin enclosure of London Zoo.). The top storey, referred to as 'London's living room', leads out onto a balcony with a 360˚ panoramic view of the city.

The following books on London architecture may be of interest to you:
London's Waterfront: The Thames from Battersea to the Barrier
New London Architecture
London: A Guide to Recent Architecture

City Hall is open to the public, the Greater London Authority website has visiting details. Other attractions near to City Hall include The Monument, Winston Churchill’s Britain at War, Vinopolis, Southwark Cathedral, Tower of London and Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast. Entrance to all of these London attractions is free to holders of the London Pass. Other nearby attractions include The London Dungeon, Hay’s Galleria (for shopping) and the Design Museum.

The nearest stations to London City Hall are London Bridge and Tower Hill.

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The full panoramic image of City Hall can be found on the London tour by PanoramicEarth.com. An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

For more articles on London see the London Index or select one of the labels at the bottom.

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