An under-construction skyscraper in London has unintentionally become a solar death ray that melted a car.
The 37-storey building, officially named 20 Fenchurch Street, is nicknamed the Walkie Talkie or the Pint because of its planned shape, as shown above in an artist impression. As well as bulging at the sides, it has a concave face, shown front in the image.
Unfortunately that creates a problem, as discovered by Jaguar owner Martin Lindsay who parked opposite the building and returned to discover that not only had the Jaguar badge melted, but both the wing mirror and panels on the car had warped.
It soon became clear that the concave glass face of the building had reflected the rays of the sun, creating a true hotspot at ground level that’s reportedly been measured at 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). The local authority has now blocked off three parking spots in the street while the issue is investigated.
The problem has also affected stores on the street, with one seeing paint bubbling up and tiles buckling until the came out of place, and another having a door frame warped and a welcome mat catching fire.
The construction firm involved appears not to have seen the problem coming, but suggest the positioning of the sun means it will now be causing the intense heat reflection for around two hours a day over a period of two to three weeks. It said it is looking both at short-term remedies and ” also evaluating longer-term solutions to ensure the issue cannot recur in future”, which presumably refers to the issue of what happens when the Earth and Sun are in the same relative positions in future years.
Guardian newspaper reader “Frank DeFord” noted that similar problems have struck other buildings, though in most of those cases they had been foreseen to some extent. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, originally made of a shiny metal exterior, had to be sanded down to reduce the reflected glare. Meanwhile the Vdara hotel in Las Vegas caused problems and even scorched one sunbather’s hair, despite having been fitted with a film to scatter the reflection to avoid a focused ray.