A new London skyscraper that reflects sunlight at an intensity capable of melting parts of a car has became the latest attraction in the city’s financial district 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.
Business owners opposite 20 Fenchurch St. 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.
“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.
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.