According to a report from The Times, changes to the original plans for 20 Fenchurch Street – a £200 million 37-floor skyscraper – could be responsible for the intense beams of light reflected off the buildings onto the street below. The so-called ‘death ray’ was discovered when only a few days ago it was claimed that a ray of sunlight had actually melted part of a parked Jaguar.
Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly drew up designs in 2009 but revisions to the original plan reduced the number and size of fins on the building, which were intended to minimise the magnifying effect that the concave design has on sunlight. Developers have argued that the studies indicated that the fins could be reduced in length “with no loss in solar shading performance”, as is shown in documents from the City of London Corporation’s planning committee. In times of crisis the changes meant that the complicated skyscraper would be easier to build and therefore would reduce the construction costs.
The building is still only half-finished and due to its car-melting and paintwork-blistering effects has now acquired a new moniker: the ‘Walkie Scorchie’. Earlier this week a scaffold screen was put up outside the building in an attempt to shield the street from the sun beams and stop it causing further damage. Construction will not be completed until May next year.
Gordon Ingram, who carried out solar modelling on the plans for the new building told The Times: “we did provide a report on the revised scheme and we highlighted the potential issue (for solar glare reflection). The issue is, this is an unusual and complex design, and it may have been a case of not fully understanding the implication of the analysis.”
Joint developers, Canary Wharf and Land Securities, said: “The final design was the co-developers’ decision and we are committed to resolving the issue of the hotspot.” They were regretful however, “it is unexpected and unwelcome, but we are confident that we will find a permanent solution.”