Get to know modern London with our guide to the most striking contemporary buildings in the city


London is filled with historic sites and architecture to wonder at but it’s got just as much to offer contemporary lovers too. If you’re visiting soon and want to make your travel snaps shine, The Piccadilly London West End is here to help with our guide to the most iconic modern buildings across the capital.

The Shard

As the tallest building in the city, The Shard cuts an imposing figure on the skyline of London. Topping over 300 meters and standing close to the iconic Tower Bridge, it’s a sight that every London tourist is sure to catch a glimpse of. Since completion in 2012, its viewing platform has become famous, giving breathtaking views of the capital.

The Shard

Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, it was conceived to look like a spire emerging from the River Thames, drawing on inspiration from 18th century painter Canaletto’s depiction of London. It certainly lives up to this vision.

The Gherkin

Officially called 30 St Mary Axe but often referred to as The Gherkin thanks to its unique shape, this construction is certainly eye catching and unique on the skyline. While at 180 meters tall it falls some way below The Shard, its creative design means it stands out in its own right and is one of the most recognised examples of contemporary architecture in the city.

The 41 floors have been home to a range of businesses, as well as providing space for restaurants, bars and shops. Since being completed in 2003 it’s won a whole host of awards – including being voted as the most admired new building in the world by architects – making it well worth a look.

City Hall

Located on the south bank of the River Thames, the City Hall building is a work of modern art. The unusual shape makes it seem as though this creation is leaning away from the river, creating a spectacular look, especially when viewed from the water itself.

Completed in 2002, the building has drawn some interesting comparisons, with it being likened to Darth Vader’s helmet, a motorcycle helmet, an egg, and even a ‘glass testicle’ by London’s former mayor, Ken Livingstone. The design was actually used to deliver an energy efficient boost and reduce the amount of energy needed to operate.

The Cheese Grater

The distinctive wedge shape of this skyscraper makes it instantly recognisable. 122 Leadenhall Street is fondly referred to as the Cheese Grater after the City of London Corporation’s chief planning officer made an observation at the concept stage. The name has stuck ever since.

The slanted glass façade, revealing the steel bracing, and use of the elevators as an architectural feature, have all contributed to this contemporary building’s assortment of interesting features. The iconic slanted design was partly chosen to protect the view from the historic Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

The Walkie Talkie

The Walkie Talkie in the financial district of London is a divisive piece of modern architecture. Love it or hate it, 20 Frenchurch Street should definitely be a stop on your contemporary tour.

Completed in 2014, the distinct, top-heavy design is what makes this building stand out. Designed by architect Rafael Vinoly, the top floors include a stunning roof garden which is the highest in the city. But despite some praise, the building has also faced criticism and controversy. It even picked by the Carbuncle Cup for the worst new building in the UK.

Hotels in West End London, UK, offer the perfect base for exploring all the city has to offer, including the city’s stunning modern architecture. From centuries old monuments to modern creations that reach for the skies, London is a design fan’s dream.