120 Fenchurch Street
This is London’s newest vantage point! Its been open on an ad hoc basis since the summer of 2018 to local workers and organisations, and the original plans were for it to open in the late summer of 2018. Things got a bit delayed and Valentine’s Day 2019 was the first day it opened to the public. Part of the delay was I think due to the need to have appropriate security arrangements in place, including a scanner and metal detector arch which are very important. Consequently the restaurant that was meant to open late last year at the same location will now be likely opening this coming summer.
Despite being in the shadow of the Sky Garden (which I have never visited) I think 120 Fenchurch Street has far more about it. Being the tallest vantage public point is not always a good thing and in fact its the location that counts. Where 120 Fenchurch Street sits, its an excellent position.
The Walkie Talkie/the Sky Garden (20 Fenchurch Street) is very prominent and The Shard makes itself quite present as this view shows.
Practically every one of London’s major iconic buildings (both old and new) can be seen from 120 and in various senses, ranging from the real close up views of the current tallest buildings that are going up in the City (including the controversial 22 Bishopsgate) to London’s tallest buildings of the past and the present, including the Telecom Tower, Centre Point, Canary Wharf and The Shard.
The famously iconic Lloyds building and St. Pauls (behind.) Do not be disappointed there are better views of St Paul’s (and also Central London) to be had from the roof top garden.
Down below there are excellent views of the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, many locations along the Thames, many of the City’s churches, the iconic Lloyds building next door, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, and St Paul’s cathedral. The viewing distance must be incredibly far on a clear day and its definitely not any less substantial than those from at the Sky Garden or The Shard.
120 Fenchurch Street has character too. Its open, its airy, it has nice gardens. Its also quite well sheltered should the weather not be to one’s expectations. Its what I would describe as a nice and cosy niche among all these buildings in the City of London. When one considers the huge draw that is New Change about a mile or so distant, 120 Fenchurch Street is without a doubt miles and miles better.
View towards the main core of skyscrapers in the City centered around St. Helens and Bishopsgate.
Its not just the views. The building itself is fairly sort of modest, its not meant to be a right in your eye sort of structure. But if you are looking up from down below, or as you come out of Aldgate tube station, it is obvious the building has a special appeal about it. On top of the main structure is this wonderfully coloured substructure that forms the base of what is the roof gardens and view point and one realises the building is making a unique statement.
120 Fenchurch Street looks a rather inconspicuous building – however that fantastic upper level structure is what makes it unique. It cant be seen from all angles of course but when you do see it you know its something special!
As I said its not right in your eye, its not going up in the sky and stating ‘I am better than everything else about me’ which is what the other tall structures in the City pretty well do…. but at the same time if you look at it with a careful eye you will see it is a very special building. In many ways its a work of art and the roof garden is the structure’s piece de resistance.
There’s not just that. There’s also the aperitif. The grand entrance. This consists of a modern archway either side and (as can be viewed from the street itself) in the centre of the building there’s this enormous screen right above the main central atrium. This shows things like trees, clouds, water, even web cam views from the top of the building itself, and its stupendous. Many people have commented on how enticing it is, how they like to look up and view the different scenes that pass. Perhaps the most endearing of all, at least for me, is the water. When this is show, one can see ripples and small waves and indeed there is a sense one is really standing underneath a pond or pool sited several floors up. Its incredible because its merely a video projection but it works!
The video projection works so well I honestly thought it was a real glass bottomed pool! Then I questioned my sanity and said ‘look, how can this glass suspend itself under the weight of that?’ It cant of course but its a fantastic effect.
The special ceiling visual effects is before one begins the main course at 120 Fenchurch Street. Having passed through the obligatory security checks, one then takes the express lift to the fifteenth floor (the fourteenth is for the restaurant that will eventually be opened.) The lifts have what I would call a slight trick. Well its not even that but I cant think of any other way to describe it!
One can see how the lifts emerge into this stupendous sky garden space. Note how the water feature adds great enhancement to the site.
Its a normal lift until one gets to the top where it suddenly arrives out in the open. New Change down the road has similar except theirs is glass fronted and one can view their progress. At 120, its so much better because you don’t see the lift’s progress but when the doors open at the top floor you are suddenly confronted with this vast open vista of the City of London. Its an enormous wow!
The Gherkin and One Canada Square (Canary Wharf) at extreme right in this ultra wide-angle shot. Its almost impossible because if one moves further back the Gherkin disappears behind the new Scalpel skyscraper – but I managed anyway.
The roof garden at 120 is an ideal place for both couples and families and their children.
There is one other thing. Its a lovely walk up around the perimeter of the roof gardens, and it takes time if one just wants to sort of lazily let things flow by. You can take your loved one, your family, and have all the time you need to enjoy the views. Its just like walking along the beach and enjoying the sea. Its a nice walk and its exciting and variable – and there are lots of things to point out and see and discuss. One doesn’t feel rushed nor feel they are missing out on anything.
Couples will find it romantic. There’s all the time in the world to take in the numerous sights of London, including Tower Bridge.
There’s the time to take in the sights, and if there’s a desire to stop and sit for a bit, there are plenty of seats along the way. One doesnt have to sit and see the views, they could also sit among the gardens, or even right next to the nice little waterway that winds its way across half the top floor. Its most definitely not a place that tries to hurry anyone along!
Its early days however these galvanised steel framed structures will one day sport numerous climbing plants and there will be lots of lovely flowers. When that happens this is bound to be an even more stupendous space to visit.
120 Fenchurch Street is open Monday to Fridays 10.00 to 18.30 (it’ll be 9pm from April to September.) Its currently open Saturdays 10 to 5pm however that opening is just a trial period and will depend on how successful those Saturdays are. I think they’ll be very successful and it will be permanent. However do check their website to be sure – The Garden 120 Fenchurch Street.