Walkie Scorchie: London's newest member of the City's tall building club generates beam of light that apparently fries eggs and melts Jaguars

Previously dubbed the Walkie Talkie, the tower is the latest architectural controversy in the capital, due to its alleged 'death ray' causing heated complaints from local businesses

While not quite on a par with the Icarus satellite from Bond movie Die Another Day, the heat reflected from the 37-storey London skyscraper is apparently so intense that it has burned holes in bicycle seats, caused parts of a Jaguar car and a tradesman's van to melt and temporarily blinded passers-by.

Local businesses have also reported singed carpets, small fires, exploding tiles and, bizarrely, a blistered lemon.

tall white multistoried building with glass windows

(Image credit: TBC)

It is thought that the unusual shape of the £200 million building at 20 Fenchurch Street, London, is causing a concentrated beam of light to reflect from the newly installed glass windows and strike at ground level.


a joint statement, developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf said that they are investigating the glare, which they say
is temporary in nature and due to the seasonally high elevation of the
sun in the sky.

'As a precautionary measure, the City of London has agreed to suspend three parking bays in the area that may be affected while we investigate the situation further.'

three men with their blazer and tie blue shirt and printed tie

(Image credit: TBC)

Staggeringly this is not a singular occurrence. Not only was Frank
Gehry's Disney concert hall in Los Angeles prone to comparable problems, but in 2009 the Walkie Talkie's architect Rafael Viñoly created the Vdara Hotel and Spa in Las Vegas with a similarly curved reflective structure.

And guess what? The Vdara suffered the identical problem with its 'death ray' being directed, unfortunately for guests, straight at the hotel's swimming pool.
A perfect demonstration of the maxim 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas'?

black stone with dot and bee

(Image credit: TBC)

The developers are looking at long-term solutions for 20 Fenchurch Street, but in the meantime are erecting a scaffold screen until the problem subsides in an estimated two to three weeks.

If they are stuck for ideas, perhaps they could consider the solution proposed for the Vdara site - just add palm trees and a few large beach umbrellas? Given the near tropical temperatures the capital enjoyed this summer, it seems more than appropriate.

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Heather Young

Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.