Riba Stirling Prize 2014: London Bridge Tower (The Shard)

Find out more about this year's shortlisted buldings at the BBC Riba Stirling home page:

The UK's most prestigious prize for new buildings, the Riba Stirling Prize, will be awarded on 16 October. BBC News Online, in partnership with Riba, is taking a look at each of the contenders for the prize. London Bridge Tower (The Shard) was designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

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Media captionStaff and locals give their opinions on the Shard

At 72 storeys, The Shard, or London Bridge Tower as it is also known, is the UK's tallest building and the second highest in Europe. It is a vertical town made up of restaurants, offices, a health clinic and apartments.

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Media captionRory Olcayto of the Architects' Journal on the Shard

Eight "shards" of transparent, reflective glass make up the exterior. They are dinted and angled to reflect the movement of the sky rather than the city below, enhancing light internally. It has become a key feature of the capital's skyline - its height and form mean it can be seen on foot, from trains and from aeroplanes as people enter London.

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Media captionProject architect William Matthews explains the inspiration behind the building

Architect William Matthews of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, says the slim, pyramid shape of The Shard was inspired by a church spire. "It's a very elegant solution as to how to build a tall building against the sky," he says. "An elegant form and the idea of a spire came to us very early on."

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Media captionWatch a 30-second timelapse video of the Shard being built

Transparency was also an important feature of the design. The clarity of the glass allows the various uses of the building - and how they change throughout the day, with lights going on and off - to be visible. A defining element of the building is how it works with the light, shifting from reflecting a grey sky to the brightness of the sun.

A high-speed lift rises six metres per second, linking the offices and accommodation and taking the public to the viewing galleries on floors 68, 69 and 72. From there they are offered a 360-degree view for up to 40 miles.

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Media captionProject architect Joost Moolhuijzen on how the Shard got its name

The Shard, which sits on a small piece of land next to London Bridge Station, has been described by The Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) as a "model of city intensification".

BBC Riba Stirling Prize 2014

Film by John Galliver. Production: John Galliver, Susannah Stevens, Sarah Austin, John Lawrence.

Still images by Michel Denance, Alamy and Getty Images.

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