Can a reflection from glass-steel skyscraper melt things?

The owner of a luxury car Jaguar XJ parked his sweetheart across the street from the curvy 37 story glass-and-steel skyscraper designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly in London  before an afternoon business meeting. Only two hours later, this car was giving off smells of melting and displaying clear signs of damage. The developers of the building who nicknamed it as “Walkie Talkie” for its distinctive shape, agreed to pay for the damages.

So how could skyscraper melt the car? 

“Fundamentally it’s reflection,” Chris Shepherd of the Institute of Physics told the BBC “If a building creates enough of a curve with a series of flat windows, which act like mirrors, the reflections all converge at one point, focusing and concentrating the light.” The curves of “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper acted like a magnifying glass to concentrate the light on only one spot, the exact spot where Jaguar XJ was parked.

Parking has been suspended in the areas affected by the reflect sunlight.
“That spot”
The carpet in a nearby barber shop has a burn mark on the carpet from sunlight reflected off the 'Walkie Talkie' tower.
A burn mark on the carpet from sunlight reflected off the “Walkie Talkie” Tower

According to Kheir Al-Kodmany, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Walkie Talkie’s designers forgot about the fact that southern-facing building would generate a lot of heat. If it had been a northern-facing building, it would have been an issues. Luckily London isn’t a very sunny city.

“As we get more shiny, glassy metal buildings, reflected light will become a bigger deal,” John Frederick, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Chicago says. “The high reflection is good if you’re inside trying to keep intense sunlight out, but if you’re outside, you’ll be the recipient of that reflected light.” Well, sometimes it is just better to walk, leave your car safely parked at home and protect the environment.

The business man's Jaguar apparently buckled in the heat from the 'Walkie Scorchie.'

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Silvia M.//SMC Editor

Read more articles written by this author here.

Sources : theverge.com, popsci.com, nydailynews.com, googleimages

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