Walkie Talkie Building Melts Jaguar By Reflecting Sunlight: How Hot Are Scorching Rays?

By Danny Choy on September 3, 2013 5:23 PM EDT

Walkie Talkie building
The Walkie Talkie building has created strong sun rays that melt the street below. (Photo: Creative Commons)

The Walkie Talkie Building is 20 Fenchurch Street,a 37-floor building commercial skyscraper featuring an interesting design that flares outwards towards the top increase square footage in order to maximize the rent of the upper floors. However, the uniquely flared window panels have caused an unintended effect on the way sun rays bounce off the glass. Light bounced from the skyscraper create a beam of light so intense that it melted a Jaguar XJ luxury sedan parked in the street below.

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When Martin Lindsay returned to his car, he found plastic panels on his car, including his side mirror caps, to be melted warped beyond repair. "They're going to have to think of something," said a distraught Lindsay. "I'm gutted. How can they let this continue?"

Land Securities and Canary Wharf, the developers of the building, paid nearly 1,000 pounds for Lindsay's Jaguar to be fixed. The Walkie Talkie building owners requested to have that area of the city and streets blocked off until further instructions.

"Canary Wharf Construction and Land Securities have been very good and agreed to pay for the damage, and accept that there is an issue which they will resolve," Lindsay told CNN. "I am in construction and sometimes things go wrong which nobody would have envisaged, and this is one of them."

Martin Lindsay's car isn't the only one that melted. According to the City A.M. paper, the sun beam also damaged a Vauxhall Vevaro van parked on the same street. In fact, the sunbeam even targeted storefronts. The scorching hot rays burnt everything from carpets and tiles to window display items and bicycles.

"The phenomenon is caused by the current elevation of the sun in the sky. It currently lasts for approximately 2 hours per day, with initial modeling suggesting that it will be present for approximately 2-3 weeks," reported a joint statement from Land Securities and Canary Wharf. "In addition, we are consulting with local businesses and the City to address the issue in the short-term, while also evaluating longer-term solutions to ensure the issue cannot recur in future."

Given that the sun beam was capable of melting plastics off a car, the peak temperatures of the ray must be extremely high. According to BBC, plastics like polyvinyl chloride have a melting point of 100 Celsius but can begin to soften before reaching that temperature. According to readings taken on the streets below the Walkie Talkie building, the hotspots reached as high as a staggering 91.3 Celsius, or 195.8 Fahrenheit.

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