A group of urban exploration enthusiasts have covertly climbed to the top of Renzo Piano’s £450 million shard skyscraper in London
Images posted to the Place Hacking blog, show a group of explorers posing for photographers at the partially completed tower’s summit and climbing on a construction crane.
The team – known as the London Consolidation Crew – accessed the construction site from a temporary walkway close to London Bridge train station.
The episode took place in the early hours in February last year.
PHD student Bradley Garrett uploaded the images. Writing on the blog, he said: ‘As of December 2011, the Shard claimed the title of “tallest building in the European Union”, stretching 310 meters into the clouds from London Bridge. It has also been said that is it the most secure site in the city outside of the 2012 Olympic Park.
‘I have never measured the building so I can’t testify to the validity of the first claim but I’m happy to respond to the second, as usual.’
Describing how he accessed the 72-storey building, he said: ‘We waited for the guard to finish his current round and go into his hut.
‘It took a few minutes of lingering before the walkway was clear of people - we grabbed onto the scaffolding pipes and swung off the bridge.
‘Hanging on the freezing pipes, we pulled ourselves on top of the walkway and laid down out of view, waiting for a reaction in case anyone had seen or heard us. It didn’t seem so.
‘Staying low, we then descended the other side of the scaffolding, right behind the security hut where we could see the guard watching TV, not the cameras.
‘Quickly, we scampered across the yard and found the central stair case, again pausing to see if there was any reaction from the yard, phones ringing or doors opening. It was silent.’
On reaching the summit, he added: ‘We were so high, I couldn’t see anything moving at street level. No buses, no cars, just rows of lights and train lines that looked like converging river systems, a giant urban circuit board.’
Doubts have been raised over the authenticity of the extraordinary images. Photographer Paul Clarke questioned the ‘miraculous long exposures’ used by the explorers, with the figures in the photographs remaining still ‘despite the wind and cramped muscles’.
Writing on his blog, Clarke said: ‘Try taking a 15 second exposure of a friend holding their head still (even assuming you do fix the camera steady and they’re not clinging to a ladder high in the sky in a howling wind with their muscles cramping).’