Embracing innovative, vibrant and off-the-wall design cues when it comes to architecture to contrast and complement the existing constructed history of a capital city can enable it to reap vast and valuable social and economic benefits from the resulting trade and tourism.
But despite being advanced enough as a race to have a constant presence in space with humans occupying the International Space Station it seems that our mathematical abilities are still not quite up to scratch when it comes to engineering down here on terra firma. If you’re reading this from the ISS I’d like to apologise for any panic that I may have just induced.
As if it wasn’t already mortifying enough that the general public had likened Rafael Viñoly’s architectural masterpiece at 20 Fenchurch Street to a ‘Walkie Talkie’, its mass of concave glass just had to take things one step further and add to its notoriety by coming together to form what has been commonly referred to as a death ray, capable of melting Jaguars* with ease come mid-afternoon during the summer. Was that not on the blueprints? I swear I had pencilled in a solar energy farm somewhere…
Visually striking, the 20 Fenchurch Street building is a stunning expanse of airy glazed dining, relaxation and that all-important office floorspace spread over 34 floors. It even incorporates a garden on the uppermost floor filled with lush greenery, presumably so that when it’s finished burning the rest of London down using the harnessed solar energy of even a typical gloomy London day akin to some sort of skyscraper equivalent of a crazed Decepticon bursting with malevolence for reasons that nobody even remembers, the remainder of London’s upper-middle class population can thrive comfortably behind its glazed frontage for years to come.
Sun louvres removed from the original design during a round of cost-cutting measures by the developers were intended to prevent the skyscraper from torching toupés and scalding the scalps of passers-by following a previous design penned by Viñoly four years prior in Las Vegas where he managed to inadvertendly create a hotel that projected the sun directly toward the outside area housing the swimming pool. The cost advantage of solar pool water heating compared to conventional methods must have been phenomenal though.
Viñoly has allegedly since created plans for a building in China that uses a shape reminiscent of a bowl to focus rays of light harnessed from the sun directly onto an obelisk light energy receptor which currently remains unbuilt. I’m unsure as to whether the film Stargate was widely acclaimed in China but there’s a chance that a popular translated version exists and the people of the People’s Republic aren’t willing to take the risk. Either that or Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey really resonated with them and they’re scared of obelisks. Either way, third time lucky, maybe?
*To my knowledge, no large cats were harmed following the construction of the building, only an executive saloon car produced by an ailing British vehicle manufacturer.