By Tom Bill and Belinda Goldsmith
LONDON, Sept 3 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-storey building that is under construction.
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
"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 minimise 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".
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 levelled 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.