LONDON -- A futuristic-looking skyscraper under construction in London has been blamed for melting cars and setting fire to furnishings in a nearby shop.
The so-called Walkie Talkie building has an unusual curved shape which reflects a concentrated beam of sunlight onto the streets below. Temperatures have reportedly reached an astonishing 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
Journalist James Waterson, who first reported the story in the City A.M. newspaper, was able to fry an egg on the sidewalk Tuesday using just the heat reflected from the building.
"It is hotter than anywhere I've ever been," he said, having just come from a shift reporting in the glare of the concave glass structure, which has been dubbed the "Walkie Scorchie."
"I was able to get a frying pan up to heat as quickly as you would on a hob and then fry an egg, which I ate for my lunch."
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
He said standing in the heat for just 10 minutes was "deeply unpleasant."
Martin Lindsay, the owner of a luxury Jaguar XJ, said Monday the blistering beam of light melted the panels on his car in just one hour. Other car owners have reported similar damage.
The owners of a barbershop on the street below said Tuesday the building had set their carpet alight.
The problem has astonished architects and experts just as much as passers by.
"I'm flabbergasted," Dr. Philip Oldfield, an expert in tall buildings at the U.K.'s University of Nottingham, told City A.M.
"At street-level it's unprecedented. The scary thing is that the light won’t always be on that part of the street. The sun angle will change through the next weeks and months – and in the winter the localized hotspot will have moved substantially," Oldfield said.
Land Securities and Canary Wharf, the building’s developers, said the issue could remain for most of September and it was "evaluating longer-term solutions to ensure the issue cannot recur in future."
The Walkie Talkie is not the first building to have encountered problems by dint of its curved design.
Guests at Las Vegas' Vdara Hotel & Spa complained in 2010 that the building's shape magnified the Sun's rays enough to melt hair and plastic.
Staff at the hotel were said to have referred to the Vdara as "death ray."