Rafael Vinoly’s 20 Fenchurch Street in London, affectionately dubbed the Walkie Talkie for its curved silhouette, has been the focus of much heated debate for its unusual form. Today the project has hit the headlines for a more concerning reason - sunlight reflected off the tower’s façade appears to be causing damage to personal property on the street below.
The structure - which widens at the top and bottom - was designed by Rafael Vinoly for Land Securities. It is this curved glass façade that is concentrating the harsh sunlight to a specific spot on the street below. Currently under construction in the City, 20 Fenchurch Street is a commercial tower topped with a public enclosed Sky Garden on levels 35-37.
A joint statement from Land Securities and Canary Wharf about the damage claims reads: “We are taking the issue of light reflecting from 20 Fenchurch Street seriously, and are looking into the matter as a priority. The phenomenon is caused by the current elevation of the sun in the sky. It currently lasts for approximately 2 hours per day, with initial modelling suggesting that it will be present for approximately 2-3 weeks.
“As responsible developers we are making every effort to keep local businesses informed and we have communicated with them regularly since the issue first appeared. While we investigate the situation further we have liaised with the City of London to suspend three parking bays in the area which may be affected. In addition, we are consulting with local businesses and the City to address the issue in the short-term, while also evaluating longer-term solutions to ensure the issue cannot recur in future.”
The developer is also in direct contact with the owner of the car, Martin Lindsay, and has offered to pay the costs to repair the Jaguar however this hasn’t stopped numerous publications renaming the Walkie Talkie the ‘Walkie Scorchie’ and local businesses complaining about bubbled paintwork and dried-out grouting.
The following comment was later added by Land Securities: “Following approval from the City of London, we will be erecting a temporary scaffold screen at street level on Eastcheap within the next 24 hours.
"This solution should minimise the impact on the local area over the next 2-3 weeks, after which time the phenomenon is expected to have disappeared. The three parking bays will also remain suspended. We are also continuing to evaluate longer-term solutions to ensure this issue does not recur in future.
“We have liaised extensively with local businesses to keep them informed throughout. We have decided on this course of action with their input and agreement.”