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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Walkie Talkie reflects on the harsh glare of publicity

A week ago I described the so-called Walkie Talkie block in Fenchurch Street, London, as one of the ugliest buildings in the country.

I emailed Radio London to that effect, in a drunken attempt to contribute to a discussion prompted by Building Design mag's round up of the worst  new buildings in the UK, aka the "Carbuncle Cup 2013".

I am a bit worried now that, according to the latest news, this building is not only ugly but actively malicious. Apparently it has been melting totally innocent Jaguars parked within range of its deadly sunlight-focusing concave reflective surface,  burning the paint off shop-fronts and frying eggs in the hands of fascinated pyro-maniac tourists.

That was not what I meant when I called it "a gargantuan lump which wrecks the view from almost every direction. Its shape is as moronic as its nickname."

I added: "That shape just makes me ill. It is a shape dictated by greed - more sq m of office space than the  ground level footprint. And it steals the light from a a much large area of the City than any other building.

"Best solution - demolish it now. More realistic solution - build more, bigger, better  skyscrapers around to to render it insignificant. "

Ironically, I revisited the  area earlier this week and have to admit I found the nearly completed building much less horrible at close quarters than it looks from a distance. I rather admired  Rafael Viñoly's subtle curves, and especially the tromp-l'oeil effect you get looking straight  up from the pavement of Fenchurch St - at a certain point it all seems straight, as the perspective cancels out the fattening of the soaring structure.

(And I am not just saying this because I am afraid it will turn its terror-beams in my direction).

I still think it is a blot on the City skyline - it is just so hulking, so smooth, so un-London. It might look fine on the Florida coastline, or in Doha, or perhaps even Portsmouth, where it could focus its glare on the Solent and boil up the sea. Maybe someone could then tap the solar energy and put it to good use?

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