Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Walkie Talkie Building

The part of London that tourists will get to know best is not a forrest of skyscraper buildings, and is all the better for that. Many great cities of the world have kept their historic city areas free of high rise buildings altogether. Not so Melbourne. London has allowed some special high rise buildings though and because they are few, they really stand out and have become buildings to visually identify London at a glance, especially the 'Gherkin'. In my opinion, there are now enough such buildings in that part of London.

In the background in this photo you can see the 'Gherkin', St Mary Axe. In the foreground is the 'Walkie Talkie' building, Fenchurch Street. Most of you will agree it is a very strange shape indeed.


Marie at 62andthenext10pathways really deserves some publicity for her brilliant work as she uses London's train lines to investigate the area surrounding each station. I believe she has completed the Bakerloo line and is well on the way to completing the Central line. As she explored the area around Bank, she made mention of the Walkie Talkie building and how because of its concave shape, it magnified the sun to an intense beam that could set a carpet alight and damage cars. While I had heard of this, I suspected a bit of myth had grown up around the story too. I investigated.

Wow, it is all quite true. Pictures from the Daily Mail, 2013. A nice bright spot beaming down from the Walkie Talkie.


Stepping out into the glare.


Distorted car window rubbers.


Burnt plastic mirror surround.


Burnt bicycle seat.


Tiles broken and glue melted.


Burnt shop entrance mat.


So how hot were the intensified sun rays from the Walkie Talkie? Hot enough to fry an egg, apparently.


As a boy I learnt about the power of curved glass, sadly leading to the demise of several ants and the occasional shriek from my brother. The architect did not wonder about what would happen when the sun's rays hit the curved glass of the Walkie Talkie building?

17 comments:

  1. Andrew I love the modern part of London..

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    1. Gosia, I am not sure that I have even been to the modern part, The City I assume.

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  2. Yikes! At first I thought the photo was distorted until I read the article.

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    1. Sandra, it could be distorted. It looks quite extreme in this photo.

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  3. wow! I thought at first that might have been distorted camera angle. The damage from that is quite bad. Is it possible the architect thought maybe England just doesn't get hot enough for that building to cause such damage? Perhaps he never played with magnifying glasses when he was a kid.
    My brother and I used to burn our names on pieces of wood with them and one time my brother started a small fire in the back yard and we toasted some bread on forks over it.

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    1. River, contrary to what most people think, it can get very hot in London and it is not designed to cope with heat. I did not know you could burn into wood with a magnifying glass. You must have been patient.

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    2. Kids on holiday with time on our hands. Have you never tried it? Back in my day almost every kid I knew had a magnifying glass and burnt wood with it. One kid, D, burnt a house image with his house number and his dad fixed it to the house where people could see it.

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  4. Yikes. I had read the story and thought then that lawyers will be having a field day.

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    1. EC, yes, I am sure someone had to pay.

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  5. Great post Andrew. It looks as though the windows now have a protective sun shield covering them.

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    1. Marie, yes they did retrofit something to the exterior.

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  6. high rise reminds me of a electric heater you plug in the wall.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Yeah, I get that Dora.

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  7. I was in London yesterday and I don't agree at all with you ! Each year I go there twice and each year it becomes more ugly ! They built and built for new flats and you should see the mess around Victoria station ! I loved the London before the Olympics !

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    1. Gattina, it is two years since I was there. It seems like I would not like London quite so much now.

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  8. Unbelievable, had never heard of that building, but the concentrated sun should be captured in solar cells for certain.

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    1. Strayer, that is a good idea. Britain isn't doing too badly with generating renewable electricity, unlike Australia, which with all the space and sun we have, we are well behind.

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