London’s ‘Walkie-Talkie’ skyscraper melts cars

Watch: London skyscraper heating up streets below enough to fry an egg

TORONTO – The owners of a skyscraper in London, England, are investigating after a light beam reflecting off the building reportedly melted cars parked nearby.

Central London’s 20 Fenchurch Street – nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie – is currently under construction. When it is completed next year it will be 160 metres tall, featuring a 360-degree public observatory and unique curved facade.

Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly’s design was the winner of a 2004 competition to replace an old office tower.

According to Viñoly’s website, the design purposefully breaks with the common conventions of architecture in a number of ways. One break with convention is that the design features floor plates that get wider at the top rather than the bottom of the building, increasing public space.

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Also, the curved shape of the building is meant to provide shade on the east and west elevations. “The north and south elevations feature extensive glazing to maximize views,” reads the architect’s website.

But it seems the concave curve of the building has an unintended side effect.

According to several local media reports, intense, bright light reflecting off the side of the building has damaged cars parked nearby, including a Jaguar XJ.

The owner of the Jaguar said the light beam damaged his car’s mirror, panels and hood ornament – all melted under the concentrated sunlight.

Locals also said that the intense glare has burned a hole in the welcome mat of a nearby barber shop.

“We were working and just saw the smoke coming out of the carpet,” said shop owner Ali Akay. “This is a health and safety issue. They should have looked into this before they built it.”

The building’s developers, Land Securities Group and Canary Wharf Group, said they were investigating the reports.

The companies said that depending on the elevation of the sun, the light beam lasts for around two hours a day.

As a precautionary measure, the city closed three parking spots in the area while officials investigate the light reflection.

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*With a file from the Associated Press

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