Facts About the Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe)

Here are some facts about the Gherkin.

  • The Gherkin is the popular name for 30 St. Mary Axe, a London skyscraper.
  • It is located on the street of that name, in the City of London, London’s financial district.
  • It is 180 metres tall and has 41 floors. It stands on the site of the former Baltic Exchange, which was badly damaged by a bomb in 1992.
  • The Gherkin has won several architectural awards, and was voted the most admired new building in 2005. It has also been featured in several films, including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  • A bar on the building’s top floor offers spectacular views over London. The Gherkin can also be seen from a long distance away, including from the M11 motorway – a distance of 30 km.
  • The Gherkin was designed by Norman Foster, the architect who also designed London’s new Wembley Stadium. Construction on the Gherkin began in 2001 and it was opened in 2003.
  • The exterior windows cover an area of about 24,000 square metres, the area of five football pitches. Despite its curved shape, the building uses only one piece of curved glass.
  • The Gherkin has 18 passenger lifts, reaching speeds of six metres per second. At any one time, the lifts can transport almost 400 people up and down in the building.
  • The circumference of the Gherkin at its widest point is almost the same as its height. The building has a total floor space of about 48,000 square metres.
  • Because of its double glazed windows, the Gherkin uses half the power a similar sized standard building would use.
  • Six large shafts act as a giant ventilation system, cooling the entire building.
  • The body of a Roman woman was found during the Gherkin’s construction. The body was kept in the Museum of London and then re-buried at the foot of the building, once it was finished.


What next? Discover some facts about some other London landmarks: Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye and Westminster Abbey.

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