Towering new skyscraper in London blamed for melting cars, setting fires


Photo of Walkie-Talkie Tower (foreground) is courtesy of Wikipedia

Tourists who will be visiting London in the near future might want to check out the city’s hottest new property: a 37-story skyscraper known at 20 Fenchurch Street, dubbed the “Walkie-Talkie Tower” because of its curved shape.

But beware: when the sun reaches a certain position in the sky and hits the tower at a particular angle, the reflected beam of sunlight is intense and, in fact, it’s being blamed for melting cars, setting carpet ablaze, and blotching paint on buildings.

On Monday, street-level temperatures beneath this beam of light soared to 150 degrees in Eastcheap, which is the present focal point for the beam–or ground zero.

Townsfolk are seething, and a little bit frightened.

Being in the stream of light was “like walking through a wall of heat,” James Graham, a consultant at Hydrogen Group Plc (HYDG), a recruiting firm located near the building, told Bloomberg. “I hope it hasn't damaged my eyes.”

Joint developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf Group said Monday in a statement: “We are taking the issue of light reflecting from 20 Fenchurch Street very seriously and are looking into the matter as a priority.”

This concentrated beam of sunlight, which has been referred to as a “solar death ray,” only recently became a serious issue, as the position of the sun has changed with the changing of the season.

It’s being blamed for melting the panels of a high-end Jaguar last week (see video posted below), and more recently for damaging a van.

On Monday, according to City A.M., the beam set the carpet of an Eastcheap barber shop on fire.

“Even the wood [of the door] is burning, and all of our product is melting—it’s not safe,” employee Ali Akay said, demanding that developers fix the problem.

Tony Nggy of the nearby Viet Cafe said the beam is blotching paint on the front of his restaurant, and forcing him to close the curtains during daylight hours.

Malka Baker, a House of Commons guide, visited Eastcheap out of curiosity, and said:

“I’ve just been to Mumbai and it’s hotter than Mumbai. Can they put a shield on it? They need to do something.”

The Evening Standard reports that developers admitted to conducting “a solar analysis and modeling, but it wasn’t picked up. That is always a risk with a building with a new shape.”

The developers have launched an investigation and are seeking ways to alleviate the problem, and this could include resurfacing the windows with a material that diffuses light.

The City of London, hoping to stop the melting of cars, has suspended parking operations in three areas that might be affected by the beam.

Meanwhile, all of Eastcheap is hoping for cloudy skies.

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