The Walkie Talkie, AKA the Walkie Scorchie, is now the Walkie Windy

Walkie talkie
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter/ The meanest and ugliest building in London

It’s arguably the ugliest building in London. (Some think this is worse) Where most buildings get slimmer as they rise, the Walkie Talkie gets bigger, because developers get more money for upper floors with better views. This makes it massively clunky. Its “public park” on the top floor isn’t public at all. Its curved wall was a giant reflector that was melting cars until they put on shades. It’s hard to think of what could get worse with this pig.

It does get worse; it turns out that the shape of the building creates a wind hazard, as people complain about strong gusts around it. One is quoted by the BBC:

“I almost got blown over the other day walking up past the building,” a sales assistant working nearby said earlier this year. “When I got around the corner it was fine. I was scared to go back.”

london skylineLloyd Alter/ Left to right: Walkie Talkie, Cheesegrater and Gherkin/CC BY 2.0

Like all London Buildings, the design went through a wind assessment, which the head of design says did not indicate any issues, so they are going to make the rules tougher and demand independent verification. Gwyn Richards tells BDonline:

We need more scrutiny. It was the right time to say: ‘We should look at this and make sure the case is watertight’. Where the independent assessments have been used we’ve seen there has been a divergence in conclusion (between the developer and the independent verification) – and we are getting improvements already.

“a divergence in conclusion”- interesting turn of a phrase signifying that hey, developers get their consultants to say what they want them to say, often using “out-dated criteria which set the levels for a comfortable environment too high.”

The BBC points to Toronto as a city that is doing something about the problem, but its guidelines are pretty toothless. Dr. Paul Walsh of Ryerson University tells Global News:

The way the system works today, the architectural team and developer, hires a consultant to undertake a wind study, and in the context of that study, indicated that the condition would be comfortable, but clearly it’s not.

It’s another argument for the Goldilocks Density, for lower buildings spread out consistently instead of packing everything into downtown towers. Our cities are becoming uninhabitable as these buildings block the sun, kill the streetscape and blow everyone off their feet.

UPDATE: Cue up "Always look on the bright side of life" as I note that the 20 Fenchurch AKA the Walkie Talkie " has achieved BREEAM Excellent rating, making it one of the most sustainable buildings in the city." It has photovoltaics on the roof that generated 27,300kWh last year and other features listed in

The building also features the first hydrogen fuel cell to be installed on a commercial building in the City of London. The hydrogen cell will produce heating, cooling and electricity, providing 300kW capacity of low-carbon electricity to reduce the buildings CO2 emissions by an estimated 270 tonnes per annum.

During construction Land Securities and Canary Wharf Group used Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timber for the wood products in the building and certified sustainably sourced steel and concrete. Additionally, 96.4% of all construction waste was diverted from landfill.

The Walkie Talkie, AKA the Walkie Scorchie, is now the Walkie Windy
The meanest and ugliest building in London just keeps getting worse. Architects and developers should learn from this.

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