London's Walkie Talkie Tower turns into a Fryscraper

walkie scorchie
Video screen capture youtube

The English have an endearing habit of giving nicknames to big office buildings, from the Gherkin (for Norman Foster's 30 St. Mary Axe) to the Shard to the Cheesegrater to the Walkie Talkie, the curvy tower designed by Rafael Viñoly. Except now it is called the Walkie-Scorchie, as the sun drops lower in the sky and hits the building at such an angle that it is reflected into the street below, cooking cars and a lot of journalists' eggs.

It's all very silly and predictable and has happened dozens of times before; Mirrored glass is, well, a mirror, and if you are going to curve it, you are just going to make it worse. Viñoly, of all architects should know this; he designed the notorious "death ray" building in Las Vegas, a curved glass structure that almost boiled the swimming pool.

The real issue here is the overuse of glass, now the de facto standard finish on every building. Since every building is covered with the same stuff, all an architect can do any more is twist it into pickles and shavers to make it different. Harry Wallop of the Telegraph has a good take on this:

For most of the Londoners caught in the griddle glare, however, the issue is not so much the heat being created, but the fact that a city full of Wren and Hawksmoor masterpieces is fast becoming a city of glass. As little as a decade ago, you could turn a corner in the Square Mile and were always promised a glimpse of a Restoration spire amid the modern office blocks. Now, your only guarantee is being blinded by a shaft of light.

Now they should put a solar furnace at the focal point and at least get some useful power out of it.

Tags: Solar Power | United Kingdom