Architect Rafael Viñoly has defended the concave shape of his London skyscraper, which has been accused of melting cars and scorching pedestrians.
Speaking at the International Herald Tribune Visionary Cities event, Viñoly said climate change is a possible cause and blamed the consultant-heavy process during the building of 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the Walkie Talkie building.
Viñoly and the building’s developers have taken responsibility for the skyscraper’s intensely heated efforts, stating that the solar reflection was acknowledged early in the building process but adding that the problem could not be properly analysed due to a lack of tools and technology.
He said the building was expected to create temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius, but acknowledged that the effects have turned out to be roughly double that.
Viñoly then criticised the UK architectural profession for the micro management of such projects, which he said waters down the impact and influence of architects and designers.
Last week the 160-metre skyscraper made headlines when it was found that the sun that reflected on the building’s concave structure and glass façade warped a Jaguar parked nearby and melted everything on the dashboard of another motorist’s car who parked beneath the building.
It has also been reported that the original design was going to feature horizontal sun louvers on its south facing triple glazed façade but that those were removed to reduce the project’s budget.
Last week, developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf closed three neighbouring car parks while they looked for a solution. Netting has now been erected in the street to absorb the extreme sunlight.
The car parks remain closed and both Viñoly and the developers have committed to a longer-term solution but not before Viñoly also touched on climate change as a suggested culprit for the problem.
This is not the first time Viñoly’s work has had this effect. In 2010, the architect’s Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas – also a concave shape – was found to reflect the Nevada sun, burning guests below.
The Vdara Hotel’s solar reflection problem was solved with the construction of a shade structure and large sun umbrellas. It appears Viñoly will have to be a bit more creative with his solution for 20 Fenchurch Street before it causes more damage to people and property.