rafael vinoly's 20 fenchurch street skyscraper is melting cars
rafael vinoly's 20 fenchurch street skyscraper is melting cars rafael vinoly's 20 fenchurch street skyscraper is melting cars
sep 03, 2013

rafael vinoly's 20 fenchurch street skyscraper is melting cars

rafael viñoly’s 20 fenchurch street skyscraper is reportedly melting cars
image courtesy rafael viñoly architects




following the latest controversies in international skyscraper news, we bring you another architectural mishap that is raising some heat amongst londoners. uruguayan architect rafael viñoly‘s 160 meter tall skyscraper 20 fenchurch street – otherwise known as the ‘walkie talkie’ – has been reported to be melting cars from extreme sun glare and reflections. martin lindsay, a director of a tiling company, left his jaguar XJ parked for an hour on the opposite side of the building, returning to only find warped body work and a melted side view mirror.


the building, which is currently under construction, incorporates extensive glazing to maximize views on the north and south elevations, which, as a result, is causing extensive damage to vehicles parked beneath and additionally blinding passersby. a similar problem emerged in las vegas three years ago, when the concave façade of a new hotel caused reflections bright enough to melt plastic bags. the FT financial times state that ironically one of the main issues for developers of tall buildings has been a historic twist of english law known as ‘right to light’, which ensures property owners are not cast into shadow by neighboring buildings. naturally, londoners have already given a new nickname to this very bright building, which shall be known from now on as the ‘walkie scorchie’.

a jaguar with extensive damage caused from the sun’s glare

sunlight reflected from the concave windows scorched pedestrians and damaged parked cars
image courtesy CHEST

city workers walk through a beam of intense sunlight reflected from the glass facade
image © leon neal/AFP

the skyscraper is currently under construction and due to complete later this year
image courtesy CHEST

construction detail of the concave facade causing the extreme reflections
image courtesy CHEST

  • because there is so much sun in London..

    Gregan says:
  • It’s reportedly only blasting several parking spots several hours a day over several days –so have the developer host an annual three-day barbeque with solar cooking on the spot and Vinoly can provide piano accompaniment.

    Mort d'Urban says:
  • there have been so many famous instances of contemporary buildings with gleaming curving surfaces causing glare (though melting is a new one) to neighbors that it’s a bit surprising to see another such example of architectural malpractice.

    James says:
  • I think they call this the Archimedes Death Ray.

    hiroshi says:
  • It just occurred to me, this building is effectively a solar powered giant death ray. Does that make it a sustainable “Green” building?

    idle_crane says:
  • wow , a bit of common sense may have been in order, this is why it is important to site your building and understand sun paths,glare and heat loads. Get a god damn clue and be an responsible architect.

    gboss says:
  • The architect’s infatuation with concave surfaces on his buildings had already been proven harmful in his Las Vegas hotel. Locating the concave surface on the north side of the building might have been OK. Why does he keep doing this? Ask him.

    Hugh Jorgen says:
  • we’ve just received a reply from one of our reader’s responding to the heat that rafael vinoly’s ‘walkie talkie skyscraper’ has been getting as of late. J.B.P. lloyd comments on the integration of concentrated solar energy systems in architecture. read more: https://www.designboom.com/readers/rafael-vinolys-walkie-talkie-skyscraper-oops-or-opportunity/

    andrea chin I designboom says:
  • Much like the problems that the Disney Concert Hall caused in Los Angeles. The ‘architect’ cum sculptor, Frank Gehry, was not enough of an architect to bother to think of the neighboring apartment towers that had been there for some 40 years.
    As a result, the apartments were heated up to a maximum of 104 degrees.

    Ron Smith says:
  • Hmm… stupid formalistic architecture is finally fighting back. Even it doesn’t want to exist anymore. Take note zaha, gehry and all you other terrible “architects”.

    boomer says:
  • All that and it’s ugly as well. Nice “feature”.

    Todd says:

    Javee says:
  • Could it be possible to actually make a benefit of curved glass facades on skyscrapers – ie solar furnace combined with turbines for production of ‘free’ electricity for the area? Especially in sunnier climates?

    JKT says:
  • There have been several examples of similar effects, including a past Vinoly building in the USA.

    Reactions seem typical.

    Firstly, the public will register the achitects lack of scientific knowledge regarding the effect, which has been promoted in every boys journal and science encyclopedia since the 50`s.
    When the Disney Hall suffered a similar fate in an article I reflected(sorry) on the possible use of panels to produce energy…………….. that was 10 years ago. This technology has been adopted by many other architects to reduce Co2 etc etc.
    although the goverments reduction of tax credits for Photo-voltaics (energy from the sun) has nearly stopped the use of panels on domestic buildings.

    Secondly, the London fiasco re-affirms the publics notion of architects as superficial form makers, devoid of other benefits.

    CNN broadcast reactions from a Prof. from a London architectural school who had little to say regarding this obvious lack of knowledge, made a joke about the previous case, without mentioning the Gerhry Disney Hall example.

    Thirdly, such a failure in an institutional scale building will not aid the architects attempt to be more responsable and broaden their involvement and client base. RIBA please note.

    Engineers will be blamed for not calculating the possible side effects of concave elevations…………………but the architects are to blame and the star system criticised. By the way Vinolay has a lot of work even in the present crisis…………….anyone notice the design fault in his office? Do these people listen to engineers?

    It matters and three major fauilures surely suggests that architets don`t listen to others, or care about their public image.

    john chamberlain says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,379 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample