There’s been controversy surrounding the Shard project from day one.
English Heritage, the body responsible for protecting historic sites, says the skyscraper spoils views of St Paul’s, while UNESCO thinks it compromises the “visual integrity” of the Tower of London. Not to mention the fact it doesn’t exactly fit in with the neighbourhood.
But you wouldn’t have got that impression from The Tallest Tower: Building The Shard on More4, which aired just before the official launch and laser show last night. It presented a universally positive view of the project, celebrating the work of the engineers and the creative approach they took to construction.
What was that? You missed the laser show? Well, if you look to your left you’ll see a dramatic reconstruction (Via Paul Truesdale).
Brushing all controversies aside, Building the Shard took a thorough- but heavily overdramatised- approach to documenting the construction. For example, I’m fairly certain that Dave the crane guy goes to work every day and lifts loads of steel (admittedly quite high) into the air without a doom-laden soundtrack and a narrator muttering about high winds.
“A gust of wind could blow the load off course…”
Yes, and an angry seagull could fly into the crane cockpit and embed its beak in Dave’s brain. But that didn’t happen either and the fairly dull process of pouring concrete and sticking bits of steel into it quite high in the air carried on unhindered.
Oddly, there wasn’t any final-level-boss-battle music accompanying the scenes of abseilers fitting windows to one floor while dangling precipitously about 14 miles* in the air. At least Dave had a cabin to protect him, even if it did have a glass bottom (aargh- why??).
These attempts at artificially creating tension were completely unnecessary, not to mention a bit patronising. It was interesting enough to see how you go about building a great big massive skyscraper covered in glass- we didn’t need to feel like we were watching Casualty in order to enjoy it.
*I’m not entirely sure of the actual height of the Shard, but it looked like about 14 miles to me, give or take a kilometre or twelve.