London Skyscraper's Facade Turns Sunlight Into A Heat Ray

The building has been blamed for melting the plastic on a parked car, setting store carpets on fire, and shattering tiles. Believe it or not, it's the second structure architect Rafael Viñoly has built that has this "feature."

What's the Latest Development?


A London skyscraper nicknamed "the Walkie-Talkie" for its shape has been blamed for a series of "hot" incidents on a stretch of street below. Most recently, a man who parked his Jaguar for a few hours came back to find a mirror and other plastic parts melted by the concentrated sunlight reflecting off the building's facade. According to the BBC, the owners of the building will pay the man for £1,000 in damages. In addition, stores in the vicinity have reported melted plastic, scorched carpet, and shattered tiles. 

What's the Big Idea?

The combination of the building's curvilinear shape and the reflective glass covering the south-facing wall is what's causing it to behave like a huge magnifying glass, says the University of Durham's James Keaveney: "There's a power station in Spain that works on this principle. They have an array of mirrors that focuses light into a central pillar — if it's 60 degrees Celsius [140 degrees Fahrenheit], you could get solar panels and get some energy out of it." Ironically, this isn't the first building by architect Rafael Viñoly that's dangerous to be near: The owners of Las Vegas' Vdara Hotel had to put up large umbrellas to prevent the "Vdara death ray" from singeing people's hair.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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