The skyscraper that melted a car wins award for UK’s worst new building

londons walkie talkie wins prize for uks worst new building  london
Walkie Talkie shown right. Image: Nando Machado / Shutterstock
It’s received so much bad publicity in its short lifetime that picking up the Carbuncle Cup award for the U.K.’s worst new building will’ve seemed like a shoo-in for some.

You may recall the Walkie Talkie from a couple of years ago when the London skyscraper hit the headlines for melting the exterior of a Jaguar XJ parked nearby.

Officially called 20 Fenchurch Street but nicknamed the Walkie Talkie for its distinctive convex shape, the building’s unusually shaped exterior concentrated reflected sunrays onto the ground below. When they landed on the Jaguar one September day in 2013, parts of the car’s exterior melted out of shape – and that was even before the building’s construction was complete.

The infamous skyscraper, deemed an eyesore by some of those who have to look at it every day, has also been blamed for scorching the fronts of stores in the vicinity and of creating wind gusts strong enough to knock people over.

The Walkie Talkie was the most nominated structure in this year’s contest and beat nine other entries to take the prize it really didn’t want.

A panel of experts from the architecture industry picked out the building as the worst of the bunch, with one of the judges, Ike Ijeh, describing it as “a gratuitous glass gargoyle graffitied onto the skyline of London,” as well as likening it to a “swollen middle finger raised in defiant profanity to all and sundry.”

Its designer, architect Rafael Viñoly, also had a solar glare problem with another of his structures, the Vdara in Las Vegas. The building, which also has a curved glass exterior, apparently caused plastic cups and bags to melt, while swimmers in a nearby pool complained of feeling too hot. One person even claimed the reflected rays singed his hair. Locals nicknamed it “the Vdara death ray.”

The Walkie Talkie, or Walkie Scorchie as it has also come to be known, opened in April last year, though to prevent further meltdowns it was fitted with a permanent, and rather large, sunshade.


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