LONDON – 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 St. — 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 had melted.
“It was parked for a couple hours in the city . . . and it’s completely warped,” he said, adding he “could not believe” the extent of the damage. “It’s absolutely ruined,” he said.
“On the windscreen, there was a note from the construction company saying ‘your car’s buckled, could you give us a call?’ ” he told the BBC.
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 Tuesday, a reporter even managed to cook an egg simply by placing a frying pan in sunlight directly reflected by the structure.
Developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf Group have apologized to Lindsay and paid for the damage to his Jaguar, while three parking spaces near the tower have been taken out of use.
Angry local store owners also say the so-called death ray has blistered their paint and caused their tiles to smash. And that’s not all: Locals say the building’s heat also burned a hole in the welcome mat of a barber shop across the street.
“We were working and just saw the smoke coming out of the carpet,” said shop owner Ali Akay. “This is a health and safety issue. They should have looked into this before they built it.”
The developers said in a statement: “We are taking the issue of light reflecting from 20 Fenchurch St. 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, adding, “We are also continuing to evaluate longer-term solutions to ensure this issue does not recur in future.”
Physicists have suggested that the concave shape of the Walkie Talkie is responsible for the problem, focusing sunlight into a concentrated beam.
The Times daily said that temperatures near the tower exceeded 45 degrees Celsius 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.