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Icon tower faces planners

Renzo Piano's 'shard of glass', the 306m high London Bridge Tower, is heading for the planners in a detailed application within days.

The £350 million pointed tower will have 66 floors of offices, hotel accommodation and flats and will be crowned with a viewing platform, twice as high as the London Eye. It will be Europe's tallest tower.

Piano, in London to unveil the latest plans, told the AJ: 'The challenge is to create a gentle presence. The glass is angled to be less obtrusive and to reflect the sky for a white look rather than the menacing dark of many tall buildings. If you're building an iconic building it must be bloody good.'

Offices will form its sloping base, before the tower tapers into a 15-storey hotel topped with 10 storeys of flats and a 100m radiator tower using wind to cool the shard. Each facade will have at least six shards throwing off different reflections and shadows.

Lord Rogers has advised on sustainability and lawyers are drawing up an iron-clad assurance that planning approval would go to the scheme and design team, not the site, said Piano. This would ensure that he saw the project through. Piano has also spoken to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment about the tower, which has said it will make an announcement in two weeks.

Piano's brainchild has been lopped in height by around 100m (400ft) and by 32,000m 2in area from the plans revealed in November (AJ 16.11.00). This was to improve its chances with planners and avoid a possible spat with the Civil Aviation Authority.

Joost Moolhuijzen, a partner at Piano's Paris office, said the shard shape was an 'intuitive and emotional reaction to the site and echoed the ships' masts and church spires that once dominated the Thames skyline'.

The total net area of the tower is 85,000m 2and the average floor plate is 2,000m 2, with the biggest 3,600m 2.Piano said he aimed to slash energy consumption by almost half from a normal block that blasts out around 450kw per hour per m 2to 250kw.

Architectural consultant Broadway Malyan is still closely involved with the scheme for developer Sellar Property Group. Arup is the engineer.

Building is due to start by the end of this year for completion by 2005.

Hamish McKenzie, contracts manager for project manager Bovis Lend Lease, insisted funding was not a problem, but would be secured on planning approval.

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