‘The architects of 20 Fenchurch Street, the £239 million building nicknamed the Walkie Talkie, had thought of almost everything. Extensive glass to make the most of the Sun; a building wider at the top to maximise floor space; sleek curves to impress clients. There was just one small flaw: the Walkie Talkie doubles as a solar death ray.
Yes, it focuses the sun’s rays and makes things hot. Yesterday it set a bicycle alight. Well, the seat smouldered a bit. New London architecture always goes through the same kind of press baptism of (in this case literally) fire. Okay, it turns 20 degrees C into 45 degrees C and melted someone’s shoes (what were they made of, ice cream?), so it’s hardly a Darth Vadar level of destruction, but the British press loves these stories. Remember the wobbly bridge? And how hatred of the Shard turned to a love-fest after the press were treated to a lot of junkets?
What we have is a deeply conservative press (with the exceptions of the neutral Independent and the left-leaning Guardian) who love a bit of schadenfreude when it comes to new stuff, and who doesn’t hate architects? I personally have problems with the idea of promised public access that turns out to be nothing of the kind (you have to give notification to visit the Walkie-Scorchie) but perhaps this kind of intense scrutiny is a good thing that reminds Londoners we do actually have a right to complain about what is thrust upon us by big business.