Having ventured up The Shard earlier in the year I was getting a vibe for these high rise shoots!
As I m mentioned in a prior blog, The Shard is an expensive venture at £25 to visit it's 68th and 72nd floor viewing platforms, whereas the Sky Garden is FREE, but it is only half its height with its viewing platform on the 35th floor.
So the question is : Does it live up to its Bigger Brother across the Thames? Absolutely it does!
The Shard in my opinion only has three good views, with the south view being its weakest as there is nothing of interest to see or photograph, and if anything (spoiler!) the best view from The Shard I think is the unrestricted view from the toilets! I think if the entry price was £10 then I would probably venture up The Shard a few times a year, but at £25 I'll probably never go there again, I just refuse to pay another one of London's silly admission fees.
Once you enter the 'Walkie Talkie' you first have to go through what seems like airport security, obviously for your own personal safety, so photo IDs, trays for your entire belonging you happened to bring with you as well as a body scan are first required and then it's straight into the high speed lift that takes you up to floor 35.
The Sky Garden
Despite it being only half the height it has 4 amazing views. The south view looking at Shard is the only 'technically' outside view, although you are still looking through a glass panel and a have part covering overhead. I think you'll still get soaked if it rained and I'd imagine on a cold day you'll freeze admiring the amazing view.
From the North you'll see The Gherkin, The Cheese Grater and Tower 42 (Formerly The Natwest Tower.)
From the East you'll see The Tower Of London and Canary Wharf
From the South you'll see The Shard
From the West you'll look up river at St. Paul's, The London Eye, The Post Office Tower and Wembley's Arch.
The interior was actually not what I expected, being called the Sky Garden is probably in my personal view a little overstated with its few trees and plants surrounding the Sky Garden Restaurant, which I add has another higher interior viewing terrace. I'm not running the garden down, I just kind of imagined more...
With the South view being undoubtedly the best view, it is quite unrestricted. The East and West views however are a little strange as there is a handrail that runs the length of the interior of the building, and in my opinion this is too far away from the window I had to dive underneath to get closer to get a photo, but I guess it wasn't designed in mind for photographers and I doubt security would like everyone to do as I did! The North interior view is based around a large open space that I can only guess where they hold main functions in, if not it seems a rather large waste of space. There are a few potted trees and a large wooden bench that runs the width of the room, but again I found it way to far from the window. Being a photographer obviously I have to get that shot so I stood on the bench with this had a knock on effect with those around me also looking for that great shot so also they stood on the bench after I had dared to do it!
But I have to say it is a very impressive view, and I am torn between which is best North or South.
To sum up: The 2 hours spent in the Sky Garden I can definitely say was worth it from a photographers stand point and more I'd say the visiting The Shard and not just because they want a £25 admission fee but due to the Sky Gardens four amazing views.