Registration opens for charity race up London’s Gherkin

Posted on by John Cronin

Runners will get the chance to take part in a race with a difference next year – to the top of the Gherkin.

The charity race, organised to raise funds for the NSPCC, will see runners climb the 1,037 stairs of the iconic City of London skyscraper.

Registration has now opened for Step Change 2011, which will take place next March and for which limited spaces are available.

About ‘The Gherkin’

The Gherkin is one of the most recognisable office blocks in the City of London, if not the world. The unusually shaped skyscraper (hence the widely used nickname) is situated at 30 St Mary Axe on the former site of the Baltic Exchange.

Standing at 180m tall, it is, for the time being at least, the second most tallest building in the City of London and the sixth tallest in London. Despite the curved shape of the building there is just one piece of curved glass in the structure that being the lens at the apex of the tower. Designed by architects Foster and Partners the award winning building was based upon a radial plan to ensure that it met with a site that was somewhat space constrained. The maximum circumference of the building at 178m is just 2m less than its height.

Offering 76,400 sq m of floor space over 41 floors the Gherkin offers premium Grade A office accommodation along with a retail shopping arcade. Described by the architects as being the first ecological tall building in London, the energy-conscious enclosure of the structure resolves walls and roof in to a continuous triangulated skin, allowing column-free floor space, light and views.

The Gherkin widens in profile as it rises and tapers towards the tower apex. This distinctive form of the building is in response to the constraints of the site and as such:

  • the building appears more slender than a rectangular block of equivalent size
  • reflections are reduced and transparency is improved
  • the slimming profile towards the base maximises the public realm at ground level
  • the profile reduces the amount of wind deflected to the ground compared with a rectilinear tower of similar size, helping to maintain pedestrian comfort at street level.

The building has a fully glazed facade maximising the available natural light (modified by solar control blinds) and affording spectacular views across London from all offices. The facade has opening panels that draw fresh air in to the communal spaces the spiral up the building. This system reduces the towers reliance on air conditioning and together with other sustainable measures, means that the building is expected to use up to half the energy consumed by air-conditioned office towers.

The building was chosen as the winner of the  RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Sterling Prize 2004 after receiving a unanimous decision from the judging panel.

Originally developed for insurance giant Swiss Re the building is currently let to several companies.

Hat tip: Londonist

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