London's Pointiest Buildings

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 13 months ago
London's Pointiest Buildings
The Shard. Photo: Matt Brown

Let's get straight to the point.

We like sharp buildings. Ones that you could prick your finger on, instantly causing a bubble of blood to rush to the surface. London's building's come in all shapes and size — see this round-up of the city's hyperbolic paraboloids for proof — but for us, it's the deadly sharp ones that do it.

Before we get to the buildings in question, a few ground rules. They have to be buildings. The spike on London Bridge is a beauty, but you can't step inside it so it doesn't make the cut — perhaps harsh considering it could cut any of these buildings in two. And pointiness is based on our own discretion. If you've got a problem with that, sound off in the comments below. Now, without any further delay...

The Scalpel

The Scalpel had to make this list. It's named after an instrument renowned for its pointiness. Photo: Tom Knowles

What's in a name? Well in The Scalpel's case, a bold pronouncement of just how pointy this City skyscraper is. It's named after an instrument sharp enough to cut through human skin. However... it doesn't look as sharp as it could be. Certainly not acute enough to warrant the name Scalpel. In our not-so-humble opinion this skyscraper is misnamed, it ought to be 'The Play Button'.

Pointy rating: 6 — it's sharp, but surely it could or should be sharper? Doesn't live up to the hype.

London Metropolitan University Graduate Centre

Photo: Mark Lebbell

This jaunty beast sits on Holloway Road, a postmodern surprise on one of London's major traffic arteries. A building that contains so many points, it's hard to zero in on one alone. These points have a more gruesome nature than most, thanks to the weathered metal that bedecks the structure, compared to the glass that's used in most other pointy buildings.

However, these aren't the narrowest points London has to offer. They have hulking heft behind them, but the compromise of that bulk comes at the acuteness of that point. A shame really, considering how jaw-dropping the building as a whole is.

Pointy rating: 4 — sorry, we love you, but you need to slim down to place higher on this list.

Photo: James Beard

Brunel Building, Paddington

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An odd situation here. There's no discernible point to the building itself, but its façade is another matter. Peaking out above the natural rooftop of the Brunel Building are multiple scaffolding points. It's beautiful to behold... but not part of the main structure. It feels a bit like cheating to us.

Pointy rating: 5 — we wish the architects had fully committed into making the main structure that jagged.

City of London Information Centre

Photo: Matteo Brancali

The City's information centre forms a joyously incongruous partnership with St Paul's Cathedral across the road. Seen from behind it looks like it's stabbing into Wren's masterpiece, so sharp are its two far-flung ends.

It's strange to think that a building so blatantly dangerous homes a service informing tourists where the nearest hop on hop off bus stop is.

Pointy rating: 9.5 — loses half a point, for placing its vertices just out of a passer by's reach.

M Montcalm

Photo: James Beard

M by Montcalm is a bougie hotel on the edge of Shoreditch, an ideal location for any tourist wanting to spend their time in London going on a different street art tour every day. However, the only art the guests should be looking at is the masterpiece they're staying in, which regular causes passers by to do a double take. Seen from Old Street Roundabout, the building looks like a slither, with a sharp spike atop.

But that's not true. This is a clever — if mindboggling — optical illusion inspired by the proximity to Moorfields Eye Hospital. Even with its trickery, the building is still a spiky specimen. But how spiky? Bar us dangling off the roof with a protractor, we doubt we'll ever know just how sharp it is.

Pointy rating: 8 on first sight, 6 once you realise your eyes deceive you.

Nova Victoria

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It's incomprehensible that Nova Victoria won the Carbuncle Cup — architecture's wooden spoon. Maybe the judges were taken aback by the (almost) blood red stretch dripping from Nova's pinnacle. We're unafraid to recognise brilliance.

Pointy rating: 8 — someone built a sharp thing and then painted one side of it red. What's not to love?

The Crystal

The Crystal. Photo: Robert Pittman

Next to London's most vital travel link, the cable car, The Crystal is an odd one. What's the point of it? If you've always wondered, but never bothered to actually look it up, it contains a permanent exhibition about sustainable buildings and the future of cities.

If the future contains sharp tips in the sky, count us in. However, The Crystal doesn't take things far enough. It's too low and wedge-shaped to get enough sharpness behind it's point. Disappointing.

Pointy rating: 4 — but if it's paving the way for further points, we forgive it.

The Minster Building, City of London

Photo: William Goodwin

When seen from the angle shown above, there's a majesty to The Minster Building's plethora of points. Each one of them like it's just raring to puncture a rogue football.

Seen from other angles, the effect isn't so striking. Don't worry, there is a solution. It contains London's largest Brewdog. Head in there down five pints of Punk IPA, and you can see however many points you want.

Pointy rating: 7 — but seriously, this Brewdog is well worth a visit.

The Shard

Seen from far away, The Shard looks like an obvious contender for London's pointiest offering. After all it's basically just a huge spike rising menacingly from London Bridge station. The name itself references shards of glass — items so pointy they double as impromptu weapons in horror movies.

But then your eyes narrow. Your eyes head straight to the point... but there isn't one. Instead it splits at the top into four separate shards. These are paradoxical. From far away, the building now looks less pointy, blunted at the top, like an overused butter knife. But when seen up close these four individual shards are themselves incredibly pointy.

Pointy rating: (1)0, simultaneously pointy and blunt — Schrödinger's point if you will.

Know any more gloriously pointy buildings in London? Sound off in the comments below.

Last Updated 07 May 2019