When Buildings Attack

Apparently the glass panes of the new curved skyscraper under construction at 20 Fenchurch Street – nicknamed the “Walkie Talkie” – are reflecting and concentrating light in a rather unfortunate way so as to superheat and melt objects on the street.

20 Fenchurch Street. Image by AFP/Getty.
20 Fenchurch Street. Image by AFP/Getty.

The Telegraph reports that a temporary scaffold and sun screen has been erected over the affected portion of the street, after rays reflected by the building were reported to have melted plastic components of a Jaguar car parked in a nearby parking bay, and enabled a man to fry an egg on the pavement:

Business owners in Eastcheap say the £200 million project has blistered paintwork, caused tiles to smash and singed fabric. A motorist has also said the intense heat melted part of his Jaguar.

Developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf said the screen was designed to prevent the “phenomenon”, caused by the current elevation of the sun in the sky, from taking place.

Of course, The Daily Mash have their own amusing take on the story:

Baker Tom Logan said: “I’ve long suspected that London was trying to kill me, with the cumulative effects of pollution, stress and a generally harrowing atmosphere.

“Oh well. I suppose psychotic buildings firing lethal beams of pure energy is another thing we’ll have to get used to, like the congestion charge and parking permits.”

Speaking via a mouth-like orifice in the Gherkin, London said: “I shall also be using flying manhole covers to decapitate you. And look out for London Bridge turning into a giant metal snake with sewage-dripping fangs.”

It can certainly feel that way sometimes.

And finally, The Guardian reports that there are many other buildings around the world that cause similar problems:

Some of the burnished stainless steel panels of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, which opened in 2003, had to be sanded down to prevent drivers being blinded by the glare, and pedestrians fried by pavement hotspots that reached 60C. Residents across the street also threatened legal action over their sky-high air-conditioning costs.

The impact of buildings is by no means confined to heat and light. Skyscrapers with curved walls (notably in Chicago) have been known to accumulate large quantities of snow and ice on their surfaces before dumping them without warning on unsuspecting pedestrians below.

Beware when walking beneath the Chase Tower, Chicago in winter.
Beware when walking beneath the Chase Tower, Chicago in winter.

The only sensible conclusion to draw from all of this – you are not safe on your morning commute. Beware!

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