Sights of London: The Gherkin

Develop your reading and speaking skills.

Level B1/B2

The Gherkin is one of the most distinctive buildings in the City of London. It is London’s most widely recognized example of contemporary architecture. It is also known as 30 St Mary Axe. This 41 floor skyscraper has a height of 180 meters and a total floor space of about 47,950 square meters. It was designed by the architect Norman Foster. This missile-shaped office tower stands on the site of the old Baltic Exchange. The primary occupant of the building is Swiss Re, a global reinsurance company.

The structure is known as the Gherkin because of its 3D oval shape. The exterior of the building consists of 24,000 square meters of glass arranged in diamond-shaped panes. It has only one piece of carved glass in the whole building and that’s the lens at the top.

The Gherkin is a private office building found along Bishopsgate, between the Tube stations for Liverpool Street and Monument. The Gherkin is the sixth biggest building in the city. The largest circumference of the Gherkin is 178 meters, only 2 meters less than the building’s height. In the construction of this structure, more than 35 km of steel was used. The Gherkin has 18 passenger lifts that travel at a speed of six meters per second. Altogether they can transport 400 people.

The Gherkin is considered to be one of the city’s “greenest” buildings. It uses energy-saving methods which allow the building to use half the power a similar tower would typically consume. It has six large shafts that work as a huge ventilation system. The shafts pull warm air out of the building during the summer and warm the building in the winter using passive solar heating. The shafts also allow sunlight to pass through the building, making the work environment more pleasing, and keeping the lighting costs down.

The building’s top floor hosts 40/30, the highest restaurant and bar in London, offering 360 degrees views over the city.

Word List

gherkin – огірок, корнішон
distinctive – відмінний, розпізнавальний
widely recognized – широко визнаний
contemporary – сучасний
height – висота
missile-shaped – ракетної форми
primary occupant – основний мешканець
reinsurance company – перестрахова компанія
exterior – екстер’єр, зовнішній
diamond-shaped – ромбовидна
circumference – окружність
consume – споживати
shaft – шахта
solar heating – сонячне опалення