The famous 165 meter building at 30 St Mary Axe in London lovingly known as the ‘Gherkin Building’ is situated in the heart of London’s financial centre. Beautiful and spectacular as it is, it does pose some challenging difficulties for those who have to clean its windows.
This incredible structure has over 24,000 square metres of glass and more than 740 windows. It requires a team of window cleaners up to ten days to clean the windows of the entire building.
Because of its design, special techniques need to be applied; rather than the normal staging that used, here special harnesses need to be utilised. It certainly is not a job for the faint hearted and requires a head for heights; since the windows on its 40 floors are angled, preventing the use of the normal swinging stages that commonly used by window cleaners. To gain access to the upper portions, London window cleaners must descend from the top using secured ropes that are passed through a series of loops and swivels and then harnessed around the body. Until reaching the part of the
building where a ring shaped collar is incorporated in the construction. Here specially designed scaffolding can be deployed.
Because of its design it requires experienced and highly specialised group of cleaners, normally a team of ten men would have to rappel down the side of the building in order to clean the windows on the highest sector, before getting to the area where traditional window cleaner’s platform can be utilised in order to completely clean all the windows. To give an idea of the amount of glass to be cleaned, the total area of 24,000 square metres is roughly the size of 5 soccer fields.
Interestingly, because of the difficulties of getting to the work area, the cleaners take their meal breaks sitting on top of the 40 floor building.
Despite of its highly technical design, the work of the window cleaners is still to carried out in the time honoured way; by using a bucket of soapy water and a squeegee! But all is not lost, as a newly developed silicon spray which is claimed will revolutionise window cleaning, because of its properties to be able to repel dirt and grime, could mean that these courageous London window cleaners will not need to risk life and limb so often.