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.
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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid