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 Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 266 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid