History repeating? The Walkie Scorchie’s Plan B

Gabriella Griffith

SHIELD your eyes, the curtain has been pulled back on the plans for the Walkie Scorchie and its indiscriminate burn beams. Land Securities has been working with Rafael Vinoly’s architecture firm to create a solution to stop the building’s curved surface from reflecting super-strong beams of sunlight onto the road below (as happened in September, when it melted a car’s wing mirror). It could mean no more hardcore reflections onto Fenchurch Street, no more melting Jaguars and no more fried eggs for City A.M. staff (sad face).

The 45-page dossier filed yesterday made for some interesting reading, mainly down to the jargon. Brise soleil might sound like a breezy solution but it’s actually a term for the type of sunshade system they’ll use.

Then there’s the spandrel panels (sounds mischievously like scoundrel), vertical louvres (French museum on a stick?) and vertical glazed skin (not a side effect of a week in Ibiza).

The Walkie Scorchie isn’t alone though – there are plenty of other architectural snafus:

1. Millennium Bridge
Opened on 10 June 2000, the bridge was closed two days later because it was swaying too much. It re-opened in February 2002, after having shock absorbers fitted to curb the oscillations.

2. 125 Old Broad Street
Four months after the £80m refurbishment of the former Stock Exchange Tower was complete in 2009, its windows started popping out and falling down on the street below. Protective scaffolding had to be erected while the building was reclad.

3. Olympic Aquatic Centre
Just before the Olympic Games kicked off in London in 2012, architect Zaha Hadid was forced to defend her design of the centre because the curvaceous roof was obstructing the view of the diving board from the very top rows.

4. Terminal 5 Heathrow
Richard Rogers’ T5 design came under fire in November when it emerged that the light bulbs hadn’t been changed for up to five years because there was no safe way to reach them. The airport had to draft in high wire walkers to do the task. And further afield….

5. The Vdara Hotel
The Vdara in Las Vegas became known as “death-ray hotel” for a short while, thanks to the reflective glare bouncing onto the bathing deck below. Sound familiar? Turns out the Vdara was designed by the same architects as the Walkie Scorchie.

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