By Kevin Brass

London apartment buyers with high hopes will soon be able to tower above their peers.

The Shard, which is under construction on the south bank of the Thames, is offering the highest residences in the city. Apartments will occupy floors 53 to 65 in the tower, which will be western Europe’s tallest building.

The Renzo Piano-designed structure will dominate the London skyscape at 310 metres, dwarfing the former London champion, the 235-metre One Canada Square. The Gherkin, perhaps London’s most striking building, is a relatively puny 180 metres.

The Shard, which is short for “shard of glass”, will be a striking new addition, and part of the £2 billion (Dh11.9bn) London Bridge Quarter redevelopment project, which is backed by a consortium of Qatari investors, including Qatar Islamic Bank and Barwa, the Qatar property company.

The apartments will sit on top of the Shangri-La Hotel, which will occupy floors 34 to 52 in the tower. A viewing galley offering panoramic 360-degree views of the city will cover floors 68 to 72 while offices will occupy floors 2 to 26. The penthouse will be 224 metres above the ground, giving the owner an unobstructed opportunity to look down on every other homeowner in the city.

No prices have been set yet for the apartments, nor have any details been released on how the floors will be configured, says a spokesman for the project. The apartments will cover about 62,000 square feet, he said.

The exterior of the building is scheduled for completion next year, in time to show off for the Olympic Games in London. But it could be another year before the apartments are ready for tenants.

While The Shard will be the tallest building in Europe, it is dwarfed by the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, which measures 828 metres. And Dubai will soon boast the two tallest pure residential towers in the world, the Pentominium, which will rise to 515 metres, and the Princess Tower at 414 metres.