News / Europe

Developers Face Heat for London's Car-frying Skyscraper

Sunlight is reflected from the Walkie Talkie tower in central London, Sept. 3, 2013.
Sunlight is reflected from the Walkie Talkie tower in central London, Sept. 3, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— A new London skyscraper that reflects sunlight at an intensity capable of melting parts of a car became the latest attraction in the city's financial district on Tuesday as the developers acted to find a quick fix.
 
The glass-clad tower, dubbed the Walkie Talkie for its distinctive flared shape, was blamed this week for warping the wing mirror, panels and badge on a Jaguar car parked on the street below the 37-story building that is under construction.
 
A camera man films broken slates outside a cafe in London, Sept. 3, 2013. Local media reported the tiles had shattered from sunlight reflected by the Walkie Talkie tower in London.A camera man films broken slates outside a cafe in London, Sept. 3, 2013. Local media reported the tiles had shattered from sunlight reflected by the Walkie Talkie tower in London.
x
A camera man films broken slates outside a cafe in London, Sept. 3, 2013. Local media reported the tiles had shattered from sunlight reflected by the Walkie Talkie tower in London.
A camera man films broken slates outside a cafe in London, Sept. 3, 2013. Local media reported the tiles had shattered from sunlight reflected by the Walkie Talkie tower in London.
Business owners opposite 20 Fenchurch Street pointed to sun damage on paintwork on the front of their premises and carpet burns. TV crews fried an egg in the sun beam reflected from a concave wall of the tower watched by bemused spectators.
 
“I thought it was hot in Turkey but this is amazing,” said Ali Akay, manager of the Re-Style men's barber shop opposite the skyscraper. “The developers have promised to sort this out.”
 
Motorist Martin Lindsay said he left his car for an hour opposite the building and returned to find the wing mirror, panels and Jaguar badge had “melted”.
 
“You can't believe something like this would happen,” said Lindsay who received compensation for the damage from the developers. “They've got to do something about it.”
 
Three parking bays were closed off opposite the 239-million-pound ($371 million) tower to avoid more damage, as a steady stream of spectators observed and photographed the building.
 
“When you talk about a meltdown in the city, this is not quite what you expect,” said restaurant manager Simon Lamont. “It's not even open yet and it's notorious. They'll have to rename it the Sun Trap rather than the Walkie Talkie.”
 
The building's developers - the Canary Wharf Group which is majority-owned by Songbird Estates and Land Securities - said they would erect temporary scaffolding at street level within the next day to block the beams of light that last for about two hours a day due to the sun's current elevation.

Novel design
 
“This solution should minimize the impact on the local area over the next 2-3 weeks, after which time the phenomenon is expected to have disappeared,” they said in a statement.
 
“We are also continuing to evaluate longer-term solutions to ensure this issue does not recur in future.”
 
The Walkie Talkie, due to open in spring 2014, is one of a series of striking, modern buildings to go up in the area of London known as the “Square Mile”, where 300,000 people work in financial and professional services, with other notable towers dubbed the “Gherkin” and the “Cheese Grater”.
 
Pedestrians walk as sunlight reflects from the Walkie Talkie tower in central London, Sept. 3, 2013.Pedestrians walk as sunlight reflects from the Walkie Talkie tower in central London, Sept. 3, 2013.
x
Pedestrians walk as sunlight reflects from the Walkie Talkie tower in central London, Sept. 3, 2013.
Pedestrians walk as sunlight reflects from the Walkie Talkie tower in central London, Sept. 3, 2013.
A spokesman from the City of London Corporation, which is in charge of planning and building control in the area, said City officials were working with developers to resolve the issue.
 
The architect is Uruguayan-born Rafael Vinoly and the building's concave design means developers can squeeze more money from its larger upper floors, where the views over London promise to be magnificent and rents are higher.
 
It is not the first time a Vinoly building has been linked to intense rays of sunlight. The Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas allegedly produced intense areas of heat, according to reports in U.S. media three years ago.
 
Vinoly was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
 
Building contractors suggested the developer may have to install anti-glare film on the windows, replace whole glazing panels in the problem area, or adjust the angle of the panes.
 
“Films can be difficult to retro-fit and look ugly,” said the chief executive of one major contractor. “Think what it's like trying to put a protective screen on your iphone.”
 
He said blame may be leveled at the architect or engineering companies for not spotting the problem during the design stage but, with Canary Wharf Group as the developer and main contractor, it was likely to be resolved internally soon.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid