The Gherkin

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This building, in London’s financial district and towering over the nearby Tower of London (which you can’t see in this picture), is known as “The Gherkin”—gherkin is a pickled cucumber—and less widely as the Crystal Phallus, a play on the famous Crystal Palace, site of the Great Exhibition of 1851. To me it looks more like a rocket waiting to launch.

The Gherkin, home to the Swiss Re reinsurance company, is the second tallest building in the City of London (an area of a square mile) and the sixth tallest building in the whole of London. The architects were Sir Norman Foster and former business partner Ken Shuttleworth.

According to Wikipedia, in December 2005, The Gherkin was voted the most admired new building in the world based on a survey of the world’s largest firms of architects, as published in 2006 BD World Architecture 200. On the other hand, in June 2006, it was nominated as one of the five ugliest buildings in London.

Tastes differ. I like it.


5 Responses to The Gherkin

  1. Juggerpix says:

    It kinda looks like someone buried a trident submarine nose up… or crashed a zeppelin.

    Its definitely not a steel and glass brick. I think I like it.

  2. Passante says:

    You’re right—a zeppelin on end is an even better description than rocket.

  3. transall says:


    J’avoue que ce type d’architecture est un peu… spécial.

    Je ne suis pas très sûr de trouver cet immeuble très beau, sans parvenir toutefois à le trouver très laid (probablement aurais-je été dans chacun des sondages, n’est ce pas?). Vu de loin, il ferait penser à une fusée, effectivement, mais aussi à une friandise avec ses tons bleus.

    Quoi qu’il en soit, tout est subjectif mais le moins qu’on puisse dire c’est qu’il ne passe probablement pas inaperçu dans la ville !!!


    Didier (photo blog)

  4. Marie McC says:

    The Eiffel Tower was once scorned and detested. Coit Tower in San Francisco was reviled upon completion. One of Washington DC’s most beautiful buildings, the Old Post Office, was deemed an eyesore, and they were desperate to tear it down after only ten years. All once hated, now cherished landmarks. I think people just like to complain.

    I like the Blue Rocket.

  5. tony frais says:


    Your description of the gherkin looking like a rocket ready to launch is absolutely correct,

    In my children’s book Noah’s Rocket, Noah is instructed to build a giant space rocket in his back garden big enough to take all the animals into orbit around the Earth until it is safe to return,
    However, as work on the rocket begins, the neighbours complain, Noah is arrested and the rocket is dismantled. Noah realises he cannot build another rocket without the police finding out.

    Noah eventually gets into space by converting the gherkin into his rocket by sneaking rocket engines into the basement of the building. He piles all the animals into the gherkin which blasts off into orbit.

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