Top 12 Famous Skyscrapers In London

Even though London isn’t known for its copious amounts of fabulous skyscrapers, this has changed quite a bit in the past couple of decades. Multiple remarkable structures have been erected that can hold a candle to the city’s rich historical landmarks.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most famous skyscrapers in London, amazing structures that have recreated the city’s skyline.

1. The Shard

The Shard is not only one of the most famous skyscrapers in London, it’s also the tallest structure in the United Kingdom. It’s located in Southwark, a central district in London just south of the CIty of London, and stands 309.6 meters (1,016 feet) tall.

The tower was designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano and was completed between 2009 and 2012. It features an observation platform called “View from the Shard” which makes it a popular tourist attraction in the city as well.

Famous skyscrapers in London The Shard
The Shard in London / Dronepicr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

2. The Gherkin

The Gherkin is the nickname of a skyscraper officially known as 30 St Mary Axe, a reference to its location in the City of London’s financial district. Even though it’s far from being the tallest structure in the city at a height of 180 meters (591 feet), it’s one of the most iconic ones.

This remarkably shaped skyscraper was completed between 2001 and 2004 and has been one of the most iconic landmarks in the city since. The Gherkin was built on the location of the former Baltic Exchange which was bombed in an attack that happened in 1992.

The Gherkin ground level
The Gherkin / Drroshdy / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

3. The Walkie-Talkie Building

While the Gherkin has received general praise for its distinctive modern design, this hasn’t been the case with a skyscraper officially known as 20 Fenchurch Street. Yes, this is another building that was nicknamed due to its peculiar shape, namely the “Walkie-Talkie.”

The tower stands 160 meters (525 feet) tall and is located in the southern part of the City of London. It was originally intended to be much higher but this would block the view of the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral, two historic landmarks nearby.

Walkie Talkie Building
The Walkie-Talkie / Tony Hisgett / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

4. The Leadenhall Building

As the name of the Leadenhall Building suggests, it’s located in the vicinity of the historic Leadenhall Market near the financial district of London. It towers above most of the other skyscrapers in the area as it stands 225 meters (73 feet) tall.

The building was completed in 2014 at an astounding cost of £1.15 billion and replaced a structure that stood here since the 1960s. It’s yet another structure that received a nickname based on its appearance as it’s commonly known as “The Cheesegrater.”

Cheesegrater_and_Gherkin
The Cheesegrater and Gherkin / Colin / Wiki Commons

5. Salesforce Tower

The Salesforce Tower was originally referred to as the Heron Tower and is not to be confused with the Salesforce Tower in the United States, the tallest skyscraper in San Francisco. It is, however, rented by the same American cloud-based software company Salesforce.

The tower stands 230 meters (755 feet) tall, a height that makes it the second-tallest building in the financial district of the City of London. Even though Salesforce is the main tenant of the building, there are multiple companies housed here.

Salesforce tower london
Salesforce Tower / Eluveitie / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

6. Manhattan Loft Gardens

Manhattan Loft Gardens is a residential skyscraper located in Stratford, a town located in East London. The remarkably designed apartment building stands 143 meters (469 feet) and has only been completed recently in the year 2018.

The tower was built in an unfortunate location because it apparently blocked the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from King Henry’s Mount in Richmont Park. A line of trees was planted in such a way to highlight the cathedral’s marvelous dome in this park since the early 18th century.

Manhattan Loft Gardens
Manhattan Loft Gardens / Irid Escent / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

7. Strata SE1

Strata SE1 is one of the most celebrated skyscrapers in London as it has won multiple awards for its unique design. It’s located in the Elephant & Castle area in the Southwark district of the city and stands 147 meters (42 feet) tall.

The tower features 408 flats and is home to over 1,000 residents. It was the tallest residential skyscraper in the city upon completion in 2010 and was also the first skyscraper in the world to feature integrated wind turbines.

Strata Se01 London
Strata Se1 featuring wind turbines at the top / Wiki Commons

8. St George Wharf Tower

St George Wharf Tower is also known as the “Vauxhall Tower” because it’s located in the Vauxhall district in South London. It’s the main tower of the St George Wharf development project which features a large number of remarkable apartment buildings.

Even though it dwarfs the other apartments inside the development complex, it only stands 181 meters (594 feet). This means it looks a lot taller than it actually is. Regardless, it’s the tallest residential building in the United Kingdom and has been since its completion in 2014.

St George Wharf
St George Wharf in Vauxhall / James Beard / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

9. One Canada Square

One Canada Square is one of the most famous skyscrapers in London because of its remarkable pyramidal roof. This makes it one of the most distinctive structures of Canary Wharf, one of the main business districts in London.

The tower stands 235 meters (770 feet) which makes it the third-tallest skyscraper in the United Kingdom. It was designed by renowned architect César Pelli (1926-2019), a man who also designed the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, and was completed in 1991.

One Canada Square London skyscrapers
One Canada Square / King of Hearts / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

10. The Scalpel

The Scalpel is another recently completed commercial skyscraper in the Central Business district of the CIty of London. It was completed between 2015 and 2018 at a cost of £500 million and stands 190 meters (620 feet) tall.

The peculiar nickname of the building was based upon the shape of the tower, similar to the nearby Gherkin, Cheesegrater, and Walkie-Talkie. Just like the completion of the nearby Leadenhall Building, buildings had to be demolished in order to make way for the construction of this tower.

The Scalpel London
The Scalpel / 35mmMan / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

11. Tower 42

Tower 42 is one of the older skyscrapers in our list of the most famous skyscrapers in London as it was completed between 1971 and 1980. It was constructed to serve as the headquarters of the National Westminster Bank and is therefore commonly known as the Natwest Tower.

It was the highest building in the United Kingdom upon completion with a height of 183 meters (600 feet). It held this record until the topping out of One Canada Square in the year 1990. Today, the tower serves as an office tower and is home to a wide variety of companies.

Tower 42 London
Tower 42 / David Barrie / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

12. 22 Bishopsgate

22 Bishopgate is commonly referred to as “TwentyTwo” and is a commercial skyscraper in London that was only completed in the year 2020. It’s a massive building that stands 278 meters (912 feet) and has become one of the most imposing structures in the central business district of the City of London.

The completion of the tower is remarkable in the sense that it was built on top of a previously canceled project known as “The Pinnacle.” This was to become the second-highest skyscraper in the United Kingdom after the Shard but was shelved following the Great Recession in 2012.

The skyline of the City of London is becoming quite fascinating, don’t you think?

City of London Skylnie
City of London skyline / GrindtXX / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en