Skip to main content

Reflected light from London skyscraper melts car

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
September 3, 2013 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Building's developers say they are taking the issue seriously
  • A reflected ray of light warped panels of a Jaguar XJ parked in a London street
  • 20 Fenchurch Street, known as the Walkie Talkie building, is still under construction
  • Its curved glass side appears to reflect an intense beam of light onto a certain spot

London (CNN) -- Never mind the traffic, car owners in London have a new hazard to worry about: A skyscraper whose reflected rays have the power to melt cars.

It may sound like science fiction, but it was no joke for Jaguar XJ owner Martin Lindsay, who parked his pricey ride near the under-construction building, officially called 20 Fenchurch Street, but known by many Londoners as the "Walkie Talkie" for its distinctive shape.

Watch more: Does this skyscraper melt cars?

When he returned to the car, he found some panels warped beyond repair by the beam of light reflected down from the curved side of the landmark glass tower.

The developers of the 37-floor building, Canary Wharf and Land Securities, have said they'll pay for the high-spec vehicle to be fixed.

Intense light beams down from the new "Walkie Talkie" tower in central London on Friday, August 30. The curved side of the glass tower reflects such a strong beam of light that it has melted parts of cars. Intense light beams down from the new "Walkie Talkie" tower in central London on Friday, August 30. The curved side of the glass tower reflects such a strong beam of light that it has melted parts of cars.
London's 'Walkie Talkie' building
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
Photos: London\'s \'Walkie Talkie\' building Photos: London's 'Walkie Talkie' building

"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."

The City A.M. newspaper said light reflected from the building had also previously damaged a van parked on the same street, Eastcheap.

A joint statement from Land Securities and Canary Wharf said they were taking the issue of light reflecting from the building seriously.

"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," it said.

The developers have been in touch with local businesses and have arranged with local authorities for three parking spaces which may be affected to be suspended, it said.

"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."

20 Fenchurch Street, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, will feature about 33,000 square meters of glass -- an area equivalent to more than 4.5 soccer pitches -- once complete.

It's not the only building reportedly to have directed scorching light onto the ground below.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal said in 2010 that the glass-sided Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas was reflecting a ray of light so intense that it scorched the hair of a visitor using the hotel's pool, as well as melting a hole in a plastic bag he had by his sun lounger.

Hotel pool employees called the phenomenon the "Vdara death ray," the newspaper reported. A spokesman for the hotel's owner told the paper it was working on design solutions.

CNN's Stephanie Ott contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0621 GMT (1421 HKT)
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1112 GMT (1912 HKT)
Yoga, meditation and watching a snake eat a frog alive: these are some of the experiences to be had at this Himalayan yoga retreat.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province, experts say.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT