Talk has swirled around the opening of London’s new Shangri-La hotel in recent months for its prestigious location atop the city’s tallest skyscraper, The Shard.
However, guests staying in the 202-room hotel, which takes up levels 34 through 52 of the 306-metre tower, have pointed out a design flaw in architect Renzo Piano’s iconic tower.
These guests have found that they can see reflections of their neighbours at night due to the structure and shape of the façade. By simply looking out the window at night, the design flaw was discovered by hotel guests who were able to snap photos of their neighbours in their bedrooms.
The Shard, also known as The London Bridge Tower, takes the form of a sharp, crystal pyramid. The tower features an angled glass façade which results in multiform changing reflected light patterns.
The double skin glassy facade of The Shard is considered the main reason behind the architectural error. According to Piano’s brief of the project, the skyscraper features “eight sloping glass facades, the 'shards' (that) define the shape and visual quality of the tower, fragmenting the scale of the building and reflecting the light in unpredictable ways." One of the least predictable was the way in which guests' privacy has been compromised.
The problem could be exacerbated by the “extra-white glass” used on the façade to bring a lightness and sensitivity to the tower and the changing skyline surrounding it. That glass contributes to the façade’s ability to control light penetration and alleviate heat.
"In some rooms, due to the unique shape of The Shard, guests may be able to glimpse into a neighbor’s room. For this, blinds are available for guest privacy and this will be part of the guest orientation to the room by our team, as every guest in our hotel is checked-in in the room," the Daily Mirror reported.
The building is a mixed-use skyscraper and there have been no reports of the inhabitants of the residential spaces above the Shangri-La Hotel experiencing similar problems.
It’s also not an ideal situation for the Shangri-La’s first property in the U, or for the company's five-star reputation.
While the flaw uncovered in the Shard was unintentional, there is a growing hotel trend in which a lack of privacy is considered boutique and luxurious.
Four years ago, The Standard in New York implemented 10-foot floor to ceiling bathroom windows, giving nearby High Line walkers and passersby in the Meatpacking District quite an eyeful.
The hotel told The New York Daily News at the time that it was an error where workers forgot to replace waist-high blinds following a renovation. However, The Standard which is owned by playboy hotelier Andrew Balazs and renowned for it's exhibitionism, was accused of doing it intentionally.
Another similar trend is open planned bathrooms within hotel rooms which make it difficult for those not romantically involved or close to share spaces.
Boutique-inspired bathrooms are placing stand-up bathtubs in kitchens, removing doors from toilets and placing see through glass in a bid to save space and exude luxury.