The 'Death Ray' skyscraper is still wreaking havoc on London for a few totally insane reasons

A giant in London is melting cars, frying bike seats, and scorching footpaths.

But it’s not Godzilla.

It’s a “Walkie Talkie” — the nickname for the 38-story skyscraper on Fenchurch Street in central London.

The glare reflected from the glass-fronted building was so strong that people changed its name to “death ray” skyscraper.

Now, the $US300-million-dollar structure is once again wreaking havoc on the nearby street. The gusts of wind at the base of the building are so powerful that they are blowing people over and toppling signs off the nearby buildings.

“I almost got blown over the other day walking up past the building, when I got around the corner it was fine. I was scared to go back!” a sales assistant at a nearby store told The Capitalist.

“The wind is so strong on this side of the street we usually have to keep the doors closed so stop the clothes getting blown about,” said another.

It’s called the down-draught effect. When the wind hits a tall building, it has nowhere else to go and so it is pushed up, down and around the sides. But the air that is pushed downwards creates a sort of wind tunnel at the base of the building. The result: increased wind speed down the street below.

The Walkie-Talkie, which opened last year, has 690,000 square feet of office space and a rooftop garden. The glass building expands at the top, which makes it look like a concave mirror — or, well, a giant magnifying glass.

Soon after construction began in 2011, people complained that the “death ray” building was setting pavements, vehicles, and doormats alight.

Matt Dunham / APSmoke rises from a bike seat as it melts in the sunlight reflecting off the skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street.

Last year, the developers fitted the Walkie-Talkie with a sunshade to cool things down.

After the sunshine came the wind. The down-draughts that were recently reported near the building came as a surprise to developers — none of that was
predicted before the bricks were laid.

Skyscraper designs are always tested out in wind tunnels to prevent any damage to structures. However, architects are now focusing their attention on the potential impact of winds on people on the nearby streets, according to an expert quoted in the BBC.

Even as more and more high-rises enhance our skylines every day, maybe developers need to start taking a worm’s-eye-view to keep people from getting fried on the footpath.

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