In a review of Rafael Viñoly Architects' 20 Fenchurch Street, which is also known as the 'Walkie-Talkie' or 'Walkie Scorchie' after it emerged that its façade created a heat-focusing ray strong enough to melt cars, Rowan Moore questions London's preoccupation with iconic buildings and its money-driven planning schemes. Using 20 Fenchurch Street as a key example, Moore argues that not only does the building seem "to bear no meaningful relationship to its surroundings," but its Sky Garden - a terrace at the top of the building which claims to be "the UK’s tallest public park" - is a symbol of a bewilderingly unbalanced economy.
Moore on 20 Fenchurch Street:
It feels bloated, not elegant. It swells towards the top, in celebration of the fact that floor space gets more valuable the higher you go, and to create a bit more pavement space at ground level, in order to handle the crowds it will generate. But these new zones, fortified against truck bombs by hefty bollards, are not life-enhancing. A straight-up building with an arcade would do the same thing better. And, if the solar frying has been solved, you are still punched by wind in surrounding streets.
Read the article in full here. 20 Fenchurch Street will open its doors fully this month.