London skyscraper proves to be hot property
The question of whether London's property market is overheating seems, for some at least, to have been answered.
The owners of one of the City's most distinctive skyscrapers are mulling a partial redesign after sunlight reflected from its concave windows scorched pedestrians and damaged parked cars.
Land Securities, which is developing the Walkie-Talkie tower in the City of London with Canary Wharf Group, said on Monday that it was working on a solution. The group has already taken the emergency measure of suspending the parking bays beneath the glare, which, according to reports, is six times as bright as average light readings in the Square Mile.
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In a statement, Land Securities and Canary Wharf said: "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 modelling suggesting that it will be present for approximately 2-3 weeks."
The danger of the reflection was bought to light on Monday after a car left in front of the building suffered over £1,000 worth of coachwork damage, including a melted wing-mirror.
Martin Lindsay, the owner of the Jaguar XJ, told the Financial Times that both Land Securities and Canary Wharf had been in touch to apologize for the incident and, in the case of the latter, defray the cost of repair.
"I work in construction, so I know things can go wrong when buildings are new. But I've never seen anything like this. I'm relieved they are paying as I'm not really sure what the insurance would have made of it," he added.
The dazzling light is thought to be the result of the skyscraper's unusual glass, which bends inward. Reports of a similar problem emerged in Las Vegas three years ago, when the concave façade of a newly constructed hotel caused reflections bright enough to melt plastic bags. More often, skyscrapers suffer from windows falling out due to the differing pressures between the inside of the building and the open air.
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The sun spot is an unwelcome distraction for the Walkie Talkie developers, who are trying to lure new tenants.
The building, which is due to complete later this year, has climbed from the City's narrow lanes in tandem with the Cheesegrater, the skyscraper of rival property company British Land. Both buildings have pre-let large amounts of floor space to insurance companies.
The City of London has notoriously tough planning regulations. Ironically, one of the main issues for developers of tall buildings has been a historic twist of English law known as "Right to Light", which ensures property owners are not cast into shadow by neighboring buildings.