But the attractions of the British capital today tend to go in the opposite direction to that of Renzo Piano’s Shard, developing not in height but in depth.
As if it were not enough to have the oldest subway in the world, today the city is rediscovering its subsoil, launching a new trend: life underground.
There are restaurants, shops and spaces dedicated to the arts bringing the city to a new – underground – life.
Near Foley Street, there is a place which can be reached by going down an iron staircase that reaches a former Victorian bath for men. Today the space hosts a trendy café and restaurant that is spartan and sophisticated at the same time.
A great place for a breakfast or a coffee, within walking distance of the British Museum.
The old Thames Tunnel is another fascinating London underground space. It was the first tunnel in the world to be excavated under a river and it was inaugurated in 1844.
It was initially used as an underground passage for pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages, and was later sold to the railways of the London state as a forerunner of the future underground network.
Closed for 150 years, it reopened recently and it is now accessible through guided tours.
It’s a place for street art and they also organize concerts and shows here, precisely at 23 meters of depth.
There is also an underground shop in London that combines art, fashion and furniture.
It is located in a basement of the East London area.
Designed by a local design studio, the Chalk Room is composed of dimly lit environments, almost recreating the depth of the subsoil and placing at the centre the design of the furniture, antique or salvaged, and brand clothing and accessories.
It is located just below the surface of another shop and, among the most unusual objects sold here, there is an old Chesterfield sofa without backrest, a wardrobe for a single dress and an old wooden chest once used to carry pigs.
Another place where the sun's rays do not filter is The Tanks, a space which was recently inaugurated and dedicated to art, managed by the Tate Modern, the most visited modern art museum in the world.
If the latter is already distinguished by the extravagance of the occupied spaces, this extra underground space of the museum occupies the buried rooms that housed the oil tanks and cisterns in the last century.
In fact, this space is located at level 0 of the Tate Modern building and its connecting rooms are the location for artistic performances, almost always with free admission.
The Tanks by the Tate Modern
In London there is also an annual event that has chosen the underground as a place of performance and meeting place.
This is the Vault Festival hosted in the galleries under the Waterloo station and that every year, from January to March, hosts 60 shows, about 10 a week for 6 weeks including dance, music, circus arts, experimental theatre and many more.
This space, with its neon-lit tunnels and graffiti-painted walls, is one of the most innovative and creative places in London without limits or boundaries.
A new project, called the Growing Underground, is hosted in a structure with tunnels built as shelters from the bombs during World War II, now abandoned.
The project is based on the experimental techniques of vertical cultivation, assisted by LED technology.
As this cultivation space is independent of the climatic conditions, and pesticides are not used thanks to the completely aseptic environment, it is almost impossible to lose the harvest, as there are no unfavourable atmospheric events.
Founded a few years back, the underground farm now supplies some of the largest supermarkets in the city and is used by the most renowned chefs.
There are tours organised to visit the underground farm and to learn more about these agricultural techniques.