The Shard represents the high-rise future, according to Knight Frank's Global Cities Index report, which focuses on the increasing appeal of tall buildings in city centres.
According to the property consultant's 2015 edition of the report, London will reach 'megacity' status - with a population of over 10 million - by 2025. Among that growing population is a group of talented knowledge-workers, who are a premium resource for companies.
The resounding message from around the world is that such workers want the lifestyle that is afforded by the big cities and which has turned them into talent magnets. As employee retention and satisfaction rises up the corporate agenda, companies are moving into central, culturally rich areas to bring the workplace closer to where their younger staff live and socialise.
As demand for well-connected well-served space increases, so does the demand for tall buildings. However, the trend identified by Knight Frank does not fit the old, imposing monolithic tower. Instead, the model for the future is the Vertical City, as envisioned by developer Irvine Sellar and architect Renzo Piano and realised in The Shard. It is the building’s variety of uses that make it a community - residential properties, a hotel, restaurants and space for public visitors, in addition to offices.
However, a huge range of different businesses have also made it their home - including intellectual property lawyers, a venture capitalist, a global media brand, a major hospital group, an international energy business and one of the most famous names in jewellery.
“As the digital technology revolution continues, tall buildings could offer a quick way of delivering large blocks of office space to keep pace with rapid headcount growth for such firms.”
This reflects what Knight Frank's research has revealed, which is that although traditionally financial and professional firms have been the main occupants of tall buildings, recent years have seen a wider range of firms taking high-rise space. James Roberts, the firm's Head of Commercial Research, says, “It's worth noting recent evidence of hi-tech companies moving into tall buildings. As the digital technology revolution continues, tall buildings could offer a quick way of delivering large blocks of office space to keep pace with rapid headcount growth for such firms.”