Fenchurch Street is a commercial skyscraper in
London that takes
its name from its address on Fenchurch Street, in the historic City of
London financial district. It has been nicknamed 'The Walkie-Talkie'
because of its distinctive shape. Construction was completed in
spring 2014, and the top-floor 'sky garden' was opened in January
2015. The 34-storey building is 160 m (525 ft) tall,
making it the sixth-tallest building in the
City of London
City of London and the
12th tallest in London.
Designed by architect
Rafael Viñoly and costing over
£200 million, 20
Fenchurch Street features a highly distinctive
top-heavy form which appears to burst upward and outward. A large
viewing deck, bar and restaurants are included on the top three
floors; these are, with restrictions, open to the public.
The tower was originally proposed at nearly 200 m (656 ft)
tall but its design was scaled down after concerns about its visual
impact on the nearby
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral and Tower of London. It was
subsequently approved in 2006 with the revised height. Even after the
height reduction there were continued concerns from heritage groups
about its impact on the surrounding area. The project was consequently
the subject of a public inquiry; in 2007 this ruled in the developers'
favour and the building was granted full planning permission. In
2015 it was awarded the
Carbuncle Cup for the worst new building in
the UK in the previous 12 months.
2 Previous building
6.1 Solar glare problem
6.2 Sky garden
6.3 Wind tunnel effect
8 See also
10 External links
In July 2017 the Hong Kong food company
Lee Kum Kee
Lee Kum Kee Groups agreed to
purchase the building from
Land Securities and
Canary Wharf Group
Canary Wharf Group for
The previous building on the site, as seen from the Monument
The previous building at 20
Fenchurch Street was 91 m
(299 ft) tall with 25 storeys and was built in 1968 by Land
Securities. The architect was William H. Rogers.
The building was formerly occupied by
Dresdner Kleinwort and was
notable for being one of the first tall buildings in the City of
London, and for its distinctive roof. It was one of the towers nearest
River Thames when viewed from the southern end of London
In 2007, one of the upper floors was used in the drama series Party
Demolition of the building was completed in 2008. Despite the top-down
method of construction, it was not demolished from the bottom-up, as a
temporary structure was built, allowing Keltbray, the demolition
contractor, to demolish the building from the top down.
The new tower at 20
Fenchurch Street was designed by Uruguayan
Rafael Viñoly in a postmodern style. The
top-heavy design is partly intended to maximise floor space towards
the top of the building, where rent is typically higher.
The building uses double- and triple-glazed panelised aluminium
cladding on its exterior.
The 'sky garden' at the top of the building was claimed to be London's
highest public park, but since opening there have been debates about
whether it can be described as a 'park', and whether it is truly
'public' given the access restrictions. The garden spans the top
three floors, which are accessible by two express lifts and include a
large viewing area, terrace, bar and two restaurants. Fourteen
double-deck lifts (seven low-rise up to the 20th floor, seven
high-rise above the 20th floor) serve the main office floors of the
The south side of the structure is ventilated externally to improve
efficiency and decrease solar gain, whilst the east and west faces
incorporate extensive solar shading. There is a southern entrance in
addition to the main northern entrance set back from Fenchurch Street.
In January 2009, Canary Wharf Contractors began piling on the site of
20 Fenchurch Street. Piling and ground works were completed in June
In January 2011, work at the basement level of the tower began. By
the end of October 2011, the building was rising above street-level.
December 2011 saw the tower's core begin to rise. The concrete
core was topped out in March 2012 and by July the structural steelwork
was under way around the core. Structural steelwork topped out in
Fire protection contractor Sharpfibre Ltd began applying fire
protection to the structural steelwork in December 2012, completing in
March 2013. Cementitious spray was applied to the steelwork, which was
supplied directly to the entire building using a purpose-built mixing
and pumping station located on the ground floor.
The building completed to shell and floor in April 2014 and the first
tenants began moving into the building from May 2014 prior to final
completion in August of that year.
The building won the
Carbuncle Cup in 2015, awarded by Building Design
magazine to the worst new building in the UK during the previous
year. The chairman of the jury that decided the prize,
Thomas Lane, said "it is a challenge finding anyone who has something
positive to say about this building", whilst a town planner at the
Royal Town Planning Institute
Royal Town Planning Institute described the building as "a
daily reminder never to let such a planning disaster ever happen
Solar glare problem
During the building's construction, it was discovered that for a
period of up to two hours each day if the sun shines directly onto the
building, it acts as a concave mirror and focuses light onto the
streets to the south. Spot temperature readings at street-level
including up to 91 °C (196 °F) and 117 °C
(243 °F) were observed during summer 2013, when the
reflection of a beam of light up to six times brighter than direct
sunlight shining onto the streets beneath damaged parked vehicles,
including one on
Eastcheap whose owner was paid £946 by the
developers for repairs to melted bodywork. Temperatures in direct line
with the reflection became so intense that a reporter for the
City A.M. was able to fry an egg in a pan set out on the
ground. The reflection also burned or scorched the doormat of a
shop in the affected area. The media responded by dubbing the building
the "Walkie-Scorchie" and "Fryscraper".
In September 2013, the developers stated that the City of London
Corporation had approved plans to erect temporary screening on the
streets to prevent similar incidents, and that they were also
"evaluating longer-term solutions to ensure the issue cannot recur in
future". In May 2014, it was announced that a permanent awning
would be installed on the south side of the higher floors of the
The building's architect, Rafael Viñoly, also designed the Vdara
hotel in Las Vegas which reportedly has a similar sunlight reflection
problem that some employees called the "
Vdara death ray". The
glass has since been covered with a non-reflective film.
In an interview with The Guardian, Viñoly said that horizontal louvre
windows on the south side that had been intended to prevent this
problem were removed at some point during the planning process. While
he conceded that there had been "a lot of mistakes" with the building,
he agreed with the building's developers that the sun was too high in
the sky on that particular day. "[I] didn't realise it was going to be
so hot," he said, suggesting that global warming was at fault. "When I
first came to
London years ago, it wasn't like this ... Now you have
all these sunny days."
The 'sky garden' occupies the 34th to 37th storeys
The 'sky garden' has been criticised since opening for the tight
restrictions and advance booking requirements placed on the visiting
public, and for failing to meet pre-construction expectations of the
extent and quality of the "garden". Oliver Wainright, architecture
critic of The Guardian, described it as "a meagre pair of rockeries,
in a space designed with all the finesse of a departure lounge".
City of London
City of London Corporation's former chief planner, Peter Rees, who
approved the structure, said: "I think calling it a sky garden is
perhaps misleading. If people [are] expecting to visit it as an
alternative to Kew, then they will be disappointed." In July 2015
it was reported that planners are to consider a landscape architect's
alterations to the layout, following claims it is not consistent with
illustrations submitted with the original planning application. The
'sky garden' was a key feature in sealing approval for the building,
which is situated outside the main cluster of skyscrapers in the
Wind tunnel effect
In July 2015 it was reported that the building has had an unexpected
impact on wind strength at street-level. The City of London
Corporation received an increased number of complaints about draughts
Fenchurch Street following its completion. The
Corporation's head of design, Gwyn Richards, said: "The wind outcome
at street level experienced post-construction on a number of projects
differs somewhat to the conditions we were expecting from the one
outlined in the planning application wind assessments."
In June 2012 the insurer
Markel Corporation signed a tenancy agreement
with the developers to move into 20
Fenchurch Street upon its
completion. Markel, previously based on Leadenhall Street, was the
first confirmed tenant of the new tower and occupies the 25th to 27th
Another insurance company, Kiln Group, announced in September 2012
that it had agreed to become the building's second tenant and
Ascot Underwriting followed in November 2012. Other insurance
companies that have taken space in the building include RSA Group,
Tokio Marine, CNA Financial, Allied World, Liberty Mutual's European
operations, and Harry Townsend Corp.
Other lettings have been agreed with Castleton Securities, Vanquis
Bank, Jane Street Capital, DBRS, and lawyers DWF.
Vinson & Elkins has signed a lease to take a floor of the building
ahead of a summer 2015 move-in, meaning 98% of the available space is
As of 2017 the ground floor is let for retail and the office space is
City of London
City of London landmarks
Plantation Place, a neighbouring office building
St Margaret Pattens, a neighbouring 17th-century church
Archimedes' heat ray
^ Beioley, Kate (13 January 2014). "DWF to move into Walkie Talkie
building". The Lawyer. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
^ a b c Butler, Sarah (27 July 2017). "London's Walkie Talkie building
sold for record-breaking £1.3bn". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 July
^ "Schedule of areas". 20 Fenchurch Street. Retrieved 7 January
^ Heathcote, Edwin (4 November 2011). "Points on views". Financial
Times. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
Fenchurch Street Opens". Skyscrapernews.com. 8 January 2015.
Retrieved 4 February 2015.
Land Securities (July 2007). "LAND SECURITIES' 20 FENCHURCH STREET
TOWER APPROVED" (PDF).
Land Securities Group. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2007.
^ a b Lane, Thomas (2 September 2015). "
Carbuncle Cup 2015 winner
announced". Building Design. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
^ a b c d Wainwright, Oliver (2 September 2015). "Carbuncle Cup:
Walkie Talkie wins prize for worst building of the year". The
Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
^ Times Online (September 2008). "William Rogers: architect of
groundbreaking office towers". London: Times Newspapers, Ltd.
Retrieved 16 September 2008.
^ Lizzie Edmonds and Jonathan Prynn (12 January 2015). "Walkie Talkie
park opens amid row over public access".
^ Klettner, Andrea (19 October 2010). "Construction to start
immediately on Viñoly's Walkie-Talkie". Building Design. Retrieved 3
^ "Construction of
Walkie-Talkie Tower Begins". Londonist. 19 January
2011. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
^ Wainwright, Oliver (12 December 2012). "The Walkie-Talkie: battle of
the bulge on Fenchurch Street". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September
^ "Sharpfibre Walks The
Talk And Delivers on Time". Sharpfibre. 27
February 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
^ "20 Fenchurch Street, EC3 – List of major
London properties –
^ "London's Walkie Talkie judged UK's worst building". BBC News. 2
September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
^ a b c Sherwin, Adam (2 September 2013). "Walkie Talkie City
skyscraper renamed Walkie Scorchie after beam of light melts Jaguar
car parked beneath it". The Independent.
^ "Who, what, why: How does a skyscraper melt a car?". BBC. 3
September 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
^ "London's 'fryscaper' draws crowd on hottest day". Mississauga.com.
Retrieved 8 September 2013.
^ Smith-Spark, Laura (3 September 2013). "Reflected light from London
skyscraper melts car". CNN. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
^ World News (3 September 2013). "Man Fries Egg in
^ Jefford, Kasmira; Waterson, James (28 August 2013). "Walkie Talkie
building scorches Londoners". CITY A.M.
^ Waterson, James (2 September 2013). "Exclusive: Walkie Scorchie
melted my Jag". CITY A.M.
Skyscraper Cost-Cutting Blamed for
Car-Melting, Egg-Frying Reflected Sunbeams". International Business
Times. 1 January 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
^ Marsden, Sam (2 September 2013). "Glare from Walkie-Talkie
skyscraper 'damaged vehicles'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 September
^ Spillane, Chris (4 September 2013). "London's Walkie-Talkie
'Fryscraper' Draws Crowds in Heat". Bloomberg. Retrieved 8 September
Walkie-Talkie skyscraper to have screen put up to stop rays". BBC
News. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
^ Antonia Molloy (15 May 2014). "Walkie Talkie skyscraper to be fitted
with permanent sunshade after it". The Independent.
^ "'Death ray' at Vegas hotel pool heats up guests". MSNBC. 30
^ a b Wainwright, Oliver (6 September 2013). "Walkie Talkie architect
'didn't realise it was going to be so hot'". The Guardian. Retrieved
25 September 2013.
^ "Walkie Talkie skyscraper's public garden opens amid criticism". BBC
^ "More woes for Walkie Talkie – Sky Garden not built to plans".
^ Oli Smith. "London's new Walkie Talkie skyscraper boom causes wind
tunnel chaos for City Workers – UK – News – Daily Express".
^ "Walkie Talkie skyscraper blamed for creating wind tunnel on the
street". The Daily Telegraph. 22 July 2015.
^ "Markel moves to Walkie Talkie in 2014". Journalism.co.uk. 29 June
2012. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
^ Buckley, James (14 September 2012). "LandSec/Canary confirm Kiln
letting at Walkie Talkie". CoStar UK. Retrieved 3 September
^ "Insurer Amlin rents space in the Cheesegrater". The Telegraph. 17
December 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
^ "Research & Forecast Report". Colliers International. Retrieved
3 September 2013.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to 20 Fenchurch Street, London.
Sky Garden website
Land Securities Group
Bluewater (Greenhithe) (30%)
Buchanan Galleries (Glasgow)
Lewisham Shopping (Lewisham)
O2 Centre (Finchley)
One New Change
One New Change (City of London)
Priory Square (Birmingham)
ShopStop (Clapham Junction) (50% with Delancey)
Southside (Wandsworth) (50% with Delancey)
St. David's (Cardiff)
St. David's (Cardiff) (50% with intu)
Trinity Leeds (Leeds)
West 12 (Shepherd's Bush)
White Rose Centre
White Rose Centre (Leeds)
Gunwharf Quays (Portsmouth)
The Galleria (Hatfield)
Lakeside (West Thurrock)
Team Valley (Gateshead)
Westwood Cross (Thanet)
Bentley Bridge (Wolverhampton)
Brighton Marina (Brighton) (commercial operations only)
Cardigan Fields (Leeds)
Parrs Wood (Manchester)
The Cornerhouse (Nottingham)
The Printworks (Manchester)
Tower Park (Poole)
West India Quay
West India Quay (Canary Wharf)
Xscape Milton Keynes (Milton Keynes)
Xscape Yorkshire (Castleford)
Fenchurch Street (City of London)
Cardinal Place (Westminster)
Nova (Westminster) (50% with CPPIB)
Oriana (West End) (50% with Frogmore)
Piccadilly Lights (Piccadilly Circus)
Portland House (Westminster)
Skyscrapers over 140 metres in the United Kingdom
10 Upper Bank Street
20 Fenchurch Street
22 Marsh Wall
25 Bank Street
30 St. Mary Axe
40 Bank Street
8 Canada Square
Guy's Hospital Tower
One Canada Square
One Churchill Place
South Bank Tower
St George Wharf Tower
250 City Road
250 City Road Tower 1
Canada Water Building C4
Heron Quays West
Manhattan Loft Gardens
One Nine Elms
One Nine Elms 1 & 2
South Quay Plaza
Wardian East & West Towers
Deansgate Square (South, East and West Towers)
1 Leadenhall Street
40 Leadenhall Street
One Park Drive
Deansgate Square (North Tower)
St. John's Tower
Trinity Islands (Towers V and X)
Approved and current major construction projects in London
Battersea Power Station
Brent Cross Cricklewood
Canary Wharf's New District
Cherry Orchard Road
Elephant and Castle
Elephant and Castle (Heygate Estate)
King's Cross Central
Northumberland Development Project
One Tower Bridge
Olympic Park (East Village)
Royal Albert Dock
Southall Gas Works
London Phase 2
40 Leadenhall Street
Heron Quays West
One Landsdown Road
One Park Place
St George Wharf Tower
Crossrail (Bond Street station, Paddington station, Tottenham Court
High Speed 2
Northern line extension to Battersea
London Power Tunnels
Thameslink Programme (Farringdon station,
London Bridge station)
Thames Tideway Tunnel