I was on my way to work, trying to break through the crowd of other City workers. I don’t know what made me to lift my head and look right. Maybe it was a car horn I heard, maybe someone screamed. It’s hard to tell now. But then, in that very moment I saw it. It stood there, between the beautiful, white Bank of England and other sophisticated buildings, reflecting the morning sun rays. I couldn’t believe that I had been working there for a year and it was the first time when I saw that the famous stock exchange building was so close to my work. I promised myself then, that I would walk up to it one day, during my lunch time, and explore it a little closer.
A few years and a couple of jobs later, I still admired the building from a distance.
My husband told me once that the area around the building was full of green spaces with fountains and places to relax, so I decided to visit it on one October afternoon.
Well, I don’t know when, where or how Adam saw these green spaces (maybe at the same time when he clearly DIDN’T see his socks around our bedroom floor), but I will tell you one thing: there are none! Sure, the area is posh and immaculately clean, but it is just glass and concrete. It is one of those soulless, impersonal places, which was created thanks to unimaginable amount of money and for an unimaginable profit.
It was a Saturday when I went to visit, so the place was almost deserted, only a few tourists hovered around. It was easy to imagine all the brokers in their blue and black suits, sitting outside on the marble benches, eating their lunches, drinking their Starbucks coffee, or smoking cigarettes (and bringing their heart attacks and strokes a little closer – sorry, couldn’t resist to add an evil comment).
I sat down for a couple of minutes and looked at the Gherkin.
Despite my clear dislike of places, where the steel and glass push out the grass and trees, and where people sweat to make another penny, where one single person is just a number and a trigger in a huge machine of making money and profit, I found the Gherkin beautiful. The setting sun shivered on the glass and made it look a little blue – ish and the sky went in perfect harmony with it. I also found a great spot, where I could capture a little of the yellowing trees – my ultimate Autumn photo. I could even enjoy the piece and quiet, which surrounded during that Saturday afternoon. I actually liked it! I’m sure I would instantly change my mind if I saw it on a normal, working day though.
The Gherkin stands among old churches and buildings, which have richer and longer history and yet it somehow fits into the landscape, and it claims the space in its own, rightful way. I said it is a soulless place, but somehow I keep thinking of it as a living being. It’s got its own personality and character, and I feel that it deserves to be there. I remember it being built and now can’t imagine the City’s landscape without it. Maybe one day all those money making people will leave it, and it will be used for something more purposeful. Who knows?
Gherkin or Swiss Re building is a skyscraper in the financial district of London. It was built to replace the old Baltic Exchange, which had been destroyed by the IRA bomb in 1992.
The building is 180 meters tall and has 40 floors. On the very top of it there is a very posh and very expensive restaurant.
It is so called ecological building. Thanks to its shape the draft around it, which is very common for tall buildings, is minimised. A special double glazing protects the building from the heat in the summer and the cold during the winter.
You are not allowed to enter the building, unless you work there. I also doubt if it’s allowed to use tripods for photography, although there were no warnings nor security around either.
The nearest stations are: Aldgate, Bank or Liverpool Street.