Glare from London 'fryscraper' blamed for melting cars

3rd September 2013, Comments 0 comments

A British property developer said Tuesday it was investigating after sun rays reflected from its half-finished London skyscraper melted parts of several cars, including a luxury Jaguar.

Londoners have been shielding their eyes from the blinding glare bouncing off 20 Fenchurch Street -- nicknamed the "Walkie Talkie" because of its flared shape -- while several drivers have complained that the beams have melted parts of their vehicles.

Local businessman Martin Lindsay said he was distraught when he returned to his parked Jaguar XJ near the glassy tower in London's financial district to find the car's panels had warped along one side, while the wing mirror and Jaguar emblem on the front of the car had melted.

"On the windscreen, there was a note from the construction company saying 'your car's buckled, could you give us a call?'" Lindsay told the BBC.

He "could not believe" the extent of the damage, he added.

Located in London's financial district, the tower has now been unofficially renamed the "Walkie Scorchie", while others are dubbing it a "fryscraper".

As a crowd of sweating journalists and photographers gathered outside the skyscraper on Tuesday, a reporter even managed to cook an egg simply by placing the frying pan in direct sunlight.

Developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf Group have apologised to Lindsay and paid for the damage to his Jaguar, while three car parking spaces near the tower have been taken out of use.

Angry local shopkeepers also say the so-called "death ray" has blistered their paintwork, singed holes in doormats and caused their tiles to smash.

The developers said in a statement: "We are taking the issue of light reflecting from 20 Fenchurch Street seriously, and are looking into the matter as a priority."

They later said a temporary scaffold screen would be erected at street level within 24 hours.

"We are also continuing to evaluate longer-term solutions to ensure this issue does not recur in future," they added.

Physicists have suggested that the concave shape of the "Walkie Talkie" is responsible for the problem, focusing sunlight into a concentrated beam.

The Times newspaper said that temperatures near the tower exceeded 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) on Monday.

The developers said the phenomenon was caused by "the current elevation of the sun in the sky", and that as Britain heads into autumn the problem should disappear.

"It currently lasts for approximately 2 hours per day, with initial modelling suggesting that it will be present for approximately 2-3 weeks," they said.

The 37-floor office block is due to be completed in March 2014.

The design has met with mixed reactions in London, with some complaining that its squat shape is a blot on the city skyline.


© 2013 AFP

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