View Full Version : What do you expect

3rd Sep 2013, 07:35
If you build a 37 floor concave mirror

BBC News - 'Walkie-Talkie' skyscraper melts Jaguar car parts (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23930675)

3rd Sep 2013, 07:39
They don't build Jags like they used to :O


We have a building here in Melbourne that reflects straight down
a major freeway for miles in Winter.

3rd Sep 2013, 07:44
Form over function.... and that's just the Jaguar. :E

3rd Sep 2013, 07:52
Not like it's a new concept after all?


On this subject, R4 Today programme just now:

Anchor "Of course this sort of thing is unpredictable isn't it?"

'Building Expert': "Oh yes, completely, London is usually cloudy doesn't often get the sun"

Oh yes, completely unpredictable - assuming you discount astronomy, meteorology and the laws of physics of course?

Where do they find these people? :ugh:

Flap 5
3rd Sep 2013, 08:06
Having not driven in the centre of London for decades I often wonder on the mentality of people who drive there nowadays, unless they are delivery drivers. It doesn't make sense on so many levels and yet there are still a lot of private cars in the traffic there. Maybe this is a way of informing such people of the error of their ways.

Ancient Mariner
3rd Sep 2013, 08:28
Then you have this:
Rjukan, a Norwegian town left in the dark for half of the year, will get sunshine delivered by mirrors - NY Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/rjukan-dark-norwegian-town-installing-mirrors-direct-sunlight-article-1.1401576?localLinksEnabled=false)

Rjukan is the town nearest to my mountain cottage. In 1928 the Krossobanen, a cable car was built as a gift from Norsk Hydro to the citizen of Rjukan to take them up in the sunshine during winter. Still in use and very popular.
Krossobanen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krossobanen)

Progress is having the sun delivered to you. Let's hope they don't melt the citizens.

3rd Sep 2013, 10:31
It's hoped they will track the movement of the sun and reflect the light down directly onto the small town's main square.
(My emphasis)

Blimey. Before spending all that money I'd want to be sure.

3rd Sep 2013, 10:34

Ancient Mariner
3rd Sep 2013, 10:44
UniFoxOs, no worries. Us Vikings believe in Odin, Tor, GPS and computers. The mirrors are on electrical motors and will be aimed as per specifications.
We leave hope to our American brethren.
We'll be there for the opening ceremony, taxi has been booked as I do not expect us to be driveable, in the legal sense.

uffington sb
3rd Sep 2013, 12:37
I have some posts in my garden and brackets to support some hurricane lamps. Thinking I could double the number of lights by placing plastic mirrors under the brackets, I did so and I must admit, it looked good at night.
Unfortunately being plastic, the mirrors were slightly curved. I noticed one day that a chair and the large coffee table of our expensive M&S plastic rattan garden furniture had strange melt marks about two inches wide by about twelve long.
Yes I had unwittingly ruined our garden furniture and Mrs Uffers wasn't to chuffed to say the least!:(

3rd Sep 2013, 13:20
Brother and SIL went to town on a nice hot Summers day, and bought a nice stainless steel mixing bowl, and placed it on the back seat of the car.
They also picked up some paperwork and brother threw that into the bowl.
They went off to have lunch. Upon returning to the car, and opening the door, they were greeted by a smell of smoke. :eek:

Aforesaid paperwork was smouldering and smoking in the centre of the aforesaid stainless steel bowl.
A quick examination, and they realised that the sun was shining brightly through the rear window and onto the aforesaid bowl - whereby the suns rays were being concentrated by the highly reflective stainless steel, like a magnifying glass, into the centre of the bowl - right where the paperwork was lying.

A big double GULP when they both realised how close they came, to returning to a burnt-out car wreck!

3rd Sep 2013, 13:32
Architects are not even proper engineers, much less physicists. And they are often too arrogant to listen to either. A more accurate description would be :mad:

No, I'm not just bitching, and can give you numerous examples.

3rd Sep 2013, 13:34
Maybe they have now seen the light?

3rd Sep 2013, 13:41
You should get out more, Fox. :cool:

3rd Sep 2013, 13:50
What, and see more things made by architects? Noooooooooo! ;)

3rd Sep 2013, 13:56
Apparently it was known about by the developers, meaning that they had been aware in the planning and building phase, yet went ahead with the design :ugh: They have said that it was due to the elevation of the sun in the last days, that is the street level incidents, but shirley with every change in the sun's elevation at midday +/- different local areas (roofs/fascia/misc) will be affected and damaged ? Obviously the lower the sun, the less acute the angle of reflection will be, and perhaps power of the concentrated rays, but it makes you wonder what 'they' were thinking.


A A Gruntpuddock
3rd Sep 2013, 14:29
I'm not sure that 'thinking' comes into it.

Watched a program about a new office which consisted largely of windows, without many solid walls on the perimeter or inside.

The idea was that all this extremely expensive glasswork would minimise the visibility of the building because you could see through it.

What was the purpose of the building?

A computer call centre.

Nobody could read the screens so they had to put extremely expensive blinds round all the perimeter windows, completely nullifying the original concept.

Architects STILL thought they had got the design right and it wasn't their fault if the client spoiled it!

3rd Sep 2013, 14:35
Wrong type of sun?

3rd Sep 2013, 14:39
Architects design things to look good.

They don't design things for practicality.

3rd Sep 2013, 14:46
Pity they can't put a solar collector at the focus, from this photo it looks like the thing works pretty effectively as a solar concentrator:


3rd Sep 2013, 15:06
Architects design things to look good.

They don't design things for practicality.

I think that that statement hits the nail on the head in most cases. Whilst the architects and for that matter the developer cannot know (or even care) who the tenants will be in the future, they just might have a guess at the type of office topography involved. That said, the lack of forethought as to how services will arrive at work positions internally, power/computer/telecoms/lighting without turning into the usual spaghetti on floors/walls/ceilings that plague many a workplace is astounding, moreso if one bears in mind the excruciating rents demanded in city centre buildings. Perhaps it really is about making a big impression on the outside and stuff the rest, a bit like the typical hotel in Italy :}


3rd Sep 2013, 15:07
Speaking of architects - there is a new building nearing completion in Benidorm that has no lifts past the 20th floor, despite being 47 stories high!

Spain: Europe's Tallest Residential Skyscraper InTempo Built Without Lifts [PHOTOS] - IBTimes UK (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/498466/20130812/intempo-benidorm-spain-tallest-skyscraper-europe-photos.htm)

3rd Sep 2013, 15:30
I once tutored in architecture and the best student I ever had was a young woman attempting a double architecture and engineering degree. She was a brilliant student, able to define and analyse problems very quickly and produce the most elegant resolutions.

I told her the famous observation that anyone attempting both architecture and engineering would eventually make a decision - that architects were wasteful of material, in which case they would become an engineer, or that engineers had no soul, in which case they would become an architect. But not both.

I saw the lady some years later, and asked her how she was going.

'You're going to kill me,' she said...

3rd Sep 2013, 15:32
I'm sure there are many good architects who design buildings around their intended purpose and have the foresight to take in to account the way the sun will interact with their design.

Unfortunately, it seems that the architects who get commissions to design these large and striking buildings are either clueless when it comes to the important elements of building design or too arrogant to care about them. I get the strong feeling that many of them are only chasing the next "design award".

3rd Sep 2013, 15:40
A shorthand definition of good architecture, as opposed to adequate engineering.

A Roman builder called Vitruvius wrote about 'Firmness, utility and delight'.

Firmness is structural soundness: it won't fall down and is waterproof. Utility is fitness for purpose: a garage is big enough to contain the vehicle it was built for and it's securable. At that point an engineer, for example, might say my work is done.

But - 'delight'. The Sydney Opera House has it. So does the Eiffel Tower, most people would say, and a number of other buildings. There's no formula for it; it can't be calculated. But it is the soul of architecture.

3rd Sep 2013, 15:41
Too true, VP.

3rd Sep 2013, 15:49
Agree with the comments about architects. They seem to have massive egos. The notorious swinging bridge over the Thames was designed to look fancy by architects, ignoring decades of engineering experience of pendulum effects. I know of one tall building in central London that had to have the roof rebuilt because the architect overruled a technical requirement due to it not fitting in with his poncey ideas. And the architect of that new library in Birmingham should have last night's tv interview printed in Pseuds Corner.

3rd Sep 2013, 17:11
A little balance might be appropriate here, I feel. In 43 years of working on the design and construction of a wide variety of engineering structures and public buildings, a number of them with 'landmark' status, I have collaborated closely with quite a few architects, as a civil/structural member of the multi-disciplinary teams required to create them.

And I never encountered that mythical creature, the "arrogant architect" that this thread refers to. Sure, some were opinionated, others were a bit "airy-fairy" in manner, and an occasional grumpy grouch could surface from time to time on projects running a bit late or over budget. But so were some of my engineer colleagues, when things went temporarily pear-shaped. It seems to be fashionable however to indulge in architect-bashing as a participator sport, and I think it is often unfair or ill-informed.

The architect of this building on which I was fortunate to be involved, is the very opposite of arrogant about his many talents. A wise man who knows that the very best results are obtained from working together in harmony, each contributing the utmost efforts of their particular specialisation to the common goal. Never a hint of ignoring helpful comments and suggestions, everyone felt free to contribute. The results speak for themselves - I am quite proud of my modest input to this remarkable building ...

Lotus Temple - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Temple)

3rd Sep 2013, 20:04
I'd be proud too, 603. From the dates, it looks as though the main design was done without much CAD to help. Are those shell forms segments of a sphere, or a 'flattened toroid' or similar? Whatever they are, I bet they were a pain in the a*se. Although beautiful.

I agree too about architects on big projects. Once an architect has got to that level, he (or she, let's face it, they're creeping in :E ) has either got over the egomania thing, or never had it.

That doesn't stop low level sniping. When a dinner party guest walks into the awkwardly opening door on the way to the bathroom - the one the architect argued against but the client insisted on - it's 'the bloody architect'.

When there are oohs and ahs at the way the afternoon light floods into the living area through the windows the client didn't want, it's 'our design, we just got the architect to draw it up for approval'.

What can you do? Look after the next client the same way - the best you can.

3rd Sep 2013, 20:17
It seems that this isn't the first building designed by this architect to have this problem: Vdara - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vdara#Solar_convergence_or_.22death_ray.22)

It seems that the architect knew full well that such a convergent glazing design would cause problems, but was arrogant enough to not bother to change anything for this new build.

The news this evening showed damage to shop fronts (blistered paint, exploded stone/slate) and a small fire that had been started on the matting at a shop entrance as a result of the focused sunlight.

One rather hopes that this architects client(s) get him to pay for the remedial work needed to fix what seems to be a pretty serious safety issue resulting entirely from a design defect that was both known and predictable.

3rd Sep 2013, 20:39
Strangely, I found this quote the other day, "Architecture is the art of wasting space beautifully". Probably nothing to do with this thread but it amused me.

A A Gruntpuddock
4th Sep 2013, 06:35
Not just cars!

It's Not Just Cars That London's Walkie Scorchie's Setting Fire to | Gizmodo UK (http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2013/09/its-not-just-cars-londons-walkie-scorchies-setting-fire-too/)

4th Sep 2013, 11:24
Are those shell forms segments of a sphere, or a 'flattened toroid' or similar? Whatever they are, I bet they were a pain in the a*se.

RJM, computations for the Lotus Temple shell forms used toroidal geometric formulae to enable drawings and structural analyses to be carried out. We were only too aware of the embarrassing hiatus experienced by the structural engineers of the Sydney Opera House, when they had discovered that it was not possible to define the geometry of the "sails" originally wanted by the architect Utzon, with sufficient accuracy to permit satisfactory structural analysis and "buildability".

Our consultancy worked hand-in-glove with the temple architect right from the start of detailed design, to ensure that the mathematics was fully compatible with the architecture, so that it could be safely built, with adequate factors of safety.

VP959 and A A G: Wow, it does not look good for those responsible for the "Walkie Scorchio", does it? In another thread which touched on this a couple of days ago, I suggested (half seriously) that perhaps one solution might be to reduce the reflectivity of its glazing by spraying some sort of translucent "gloop" on it externally, to produce a matt finish. Probably a daft idea, but who knows? If I were involved in the fast-developing fiasco, I would be clutching at almost any possible answer short of demolition! ;)

4th Sep 2013, 11:29
Every architect I have commissioned has had to been steered away from building a monument to their own ego.

4th Sep 2013, 11:36
(Warning - aviation content!)

In Australia we've discovered that leaving a clam shell type of glider canopy open on hot cloudless summer days can, with the right (wrong) combination of sun position and aircraft orientation, concentrate the sun's rays onto whatever is on the seat of the cockpit - parachute or the seat itself are candidates - resulting in smoke, perhaps even combustion, followed of course by consternation all round.

Accordingly we have a rule that the canopy generally remains closed until immediate pre take-off preparations, especially when the sun is directly overhead.

4th Sep 2013, 13:44
A Roman builder called Vitruvius wrote about 'Firmness, utility and
That very much resembles a diary entry about me in an ex-girlfriend's diary. (no, I shouldn't have peaked) :cool:

4th Sep 2013, 13:45
I imagine that there are a number of London lawyers starting to rub their hands with glee at the thought of the legal battles to come.....

4th Sep 2013, 14:00
Is that building designated as 'green'?

4th Sep 2013, 14:10
That very much resembles a diary entry about me in an ex-girlfriend's diary. (no, I shouldn't have peaked)

Perhaps your humour is more subtle than you know, Lonewolf 50. Is that a simple typo of yours, or did you 'peak' too early in that relationship, then 'peek' into her secret diary about the delights concerned? ;)

4th Sep 2013, 14:44
I didn't expect the SPANISH INQUISITION!!!!!

The Spanish Inquisition - YouTube

flying lid
4th Sep 2013, 16:56
Architects ???


uffington sb
4th Sep 2013, 17:19
A sensible scientist and an arrogant architect.

Walkie-Talkie Skyscraper Beam 'Melts Cars' (http://news.sky.com/story/1136349/walkie-talkie-skyscraper-beam-melts-cars)

4th Sep 2013, 17:40
Apparently the architect had the same problem with another structure elsewhere and yet his design was allowed to go ahead :ugh: Also the temperature reached in the 'zone' is approximately 70c :eek: They are talking of putting up a scaffolding to protect the street level, but what will they do for the rest of the levels ? For several weeks/months each year the sun will be 'the wrong type of sun' and will therefore be a recurring problem unless the design is changed....:confused:


4th Sep 2013, 19:01
Can someone explain the scientific theory behind this?

I mean lots of shinny stuff reflects sunlight and some curved surfaces can actually concentrate a reflection. Even as a teenager I made an elliptical mirror to do this.

However I would have thought that it would be far more likely that the greatest reflection would have been in a more horizontal direction and cooked off a coffee pot in an adjacent building before melting a car on a street.

How did the concentrated beam get turned downward?

Windy Militant
4th Sep 2013, 19:17
http://ej.iop.org/images/2040-8986/14/10/105102/Full/jopt430056f6_online.jpgParabolics no it's true I tell you!

4th Sep 2013, 20:30
Parabolics no it's true I tell you!

That's how "dipped" headlights used to work, too ( i.e. the "dipped" filament of the bulb was off centre of the parabola ) - instead of the present vogue of half a dozen blue lights, parking lights. fog lights etc.

4th Sep 2013, 20:43
Buy that section of sidewalk and street, erect a solar panel collector, and convert the sunlight into electricity!

Or build a solar grill: Fish and chips in minutes!
Perfect if the hot time coincides with lunch.
Doesn't the time of day (position of the sun) affect where the hot spot is located, or are there limits as to when the sun is able to do this?

I keep thinking of kids, magnifying glasses, and ants, writ large.
In another thread which touched on this a couple of days ago, I suggested (half seriously) that perhaps one solution might be to reduce the reflectivity of its glazing by spraying some sort of translucent "gloop" on it externally, to produce a matt finish. Probably a daft idea, but who knows? If I were involved in the fast-developing fiasco, I would be clutching at almost any possible answer short of demolition!

I thought the same thing.

Could they cover the windows with suitably oriented polarized sheeting to cut the "glare"?

My college dorm was across the street from a Polaroid building (research and/or manufacturing? I never knew.) Dumpster diving was popular amongst the students. I once pulled out some 2 X 3 foot squared polarized flat, semi-flexible sheets. I gave them to a friend, a semi-pro photographer, for his studio. They were tinted green like sunglasses, but presumably the green is unnecessary.

If the film size could be expanded or perhaps moulded on an appropriately curved surface, could it then be adhered to the shiny windows?

Depending on the coating of polarized material it might prevent a good portion of the light from reflecting.

4th Sep 2013, 20:59
I'm not familiar with the building, but I'd guess the windows are held in their frames by a system of flexible gaskets and cover pieces. There may be enough thickness in the gaskets to reshape them to slightly change the angle of each piece of glass.

A few degrees may be enough to give the glazing of the building a faceted surface sufficient to reduce the efficiency of the solar furnace they've inadvertently built. This could be tested with CAD before attempting it.

In the meantime, the building code should be changed to require calculation of the reflection of sunlight of these glazed buildings, especially ones with curved surfaces.

Bloody engineers, signing off on this rubbish.

Loose rivets
4th Sep 2013, 21:20
Build an Equal and Opposite building in the line of fire. Light comes in from space, reflects down and across to the new building which then sends it back. This exterminates everyone in the . . . no wait! The returning light bounces off the second building onto the first, and then into space. This returned light bumps into the incoming light and stops its progress. Now there is a short intermission before the whole process is repeated.

4th Sep 2013, 21:28
Now is the time to reprise the story about David Frost driving a convertible car with the top down when it starts to rain. DF presses a button on the dashboard - and it stops raining . . .

4th Sep 2013, 21:58
visibility3miles, your suggestion of polarised sheeting applied externally seems promising to me. Many central London buildings already have special internally-applied clear plastic film over the windows, held on tenaciously by a sticky coating on one side, as part of the protection measures against flying glass shards caused by terrorist explosions. Making this film polarised would seem possible, and it could then be stuck externally on the offending glazed areas. Some loss of light transmission would occur, but this is likely to be relatively small. Perhaps the reduction in sun glare provided by a good pair of polarised 'Ray-Bans' might be achievable for reflected sunlight, too.

RJM, your suggestion of creating a faceted surface to the glazed reflecting areas also has some merit I think, depending on the gasket details. The concept of pre-testing the idea using CAD methods is a sound one, if the gasket thicknesses suggest worthwhile angular variations could be attained.

I will assume that your final statement regarding "bloody engineers" is part of the long-established friendly "joshing" between the architectural and engineering professions ... ;)

Should any of these helpful suggestions find their way into a working solution to this seemingly intractable problem, (this being a public forum), then I would advise that we ought to consider submitting our joint fee account to the appropriate quarters ... :rolleyes: :E

4th Sep 2013, 22:41
I will assume that your final statement regarding "bloody engineers" is part of the long-established friendly "joshing" between the architectural and engineering professions ...

Bloody engineers, always making assumptions... :ok:

4th Sep 2013, 22:52
If we didn't make well-judged assumptions, postulations and hypotheses on jobs shared with architects, nothing would ever get done ... :ooh:

4th Sep 2013, 23:07
Build an Equal and Opposite building in the line of fire

Apparently there is a new construction opposite the "inside out" Lloyd's building called the 'Cheese Grater'. It was built with a sloping glass facade so that views to the Thames were unimpeded. It now directs sunlight into the Lloyds building causing numerous problems.

Both the Lloyds building and the Cheese Grater were designed by the same architect.

4th Sep 2013, 23:36
The shops affected by the "death ray" could always put up parabolic mirrors as sun shades, pointing the reflected light back to its source.

That should focus attention on the problem.

4th Sep 2013, 23:39
..paint it black...

4th Sep 2013, 23:42

I bet the people in the tower would jump if that happened.

They couldn't complain because the light is coming from them
in the first place.

4th Sep 2013, 23:43
Both the Lloyds building and the Cheese Grater were designed by the same architect.

That would be Sir Richard Rogers. Far be it from lowly me to tell a chap with a knighthood and a string of brilliant buildings to his credit how to do it, but the situation does show yet again that a building rarely exists in isolation.

When you have two buildings in proximity, you have three entities: building A, building B, and the relationship between them. That third entity can be visual, psychological or as in this case, palpable in terms of comfort in one of the buildings.

5th Sep 2013, 01:24
i need to speak to that architect. A few weeks ago I tried to design a system of mirrors to reflect early morning winter sunshine into our kitchen (a separate building on our very scattered plot), but without success.

I'm tickled that urban planners didn't pick up on this in the early design stages.

But I fully expect the scorcher will find its way into something like a "visit Britain" brochure somewhere down the line.

5th Sep 2013, 03:46
If you keep up the style of names, people will turn up just out of curiosity. The Walkie Torchia, the Gherkin, The Shard, the London Eye... What else have you got? The Ark, that Ralph Erskine thing near the Chiswick Flyover, the Byker Wall oop North, the Pineapple at Stirling...

"British Architecture - You Don't Know Whether to Play With It, or Eat It"

There you are, a tourism slogan for the new millennium. :ok:

5th Sep 2013, 08:04
Bloody engineers, always making assumptions.

To an Optimist the glass is half full

To a Pessimist the glass is half empty

To an Engineer .............. the glass is too big.

Windy Militant
5th Sep 2013, 09:43
Bloody engineers, always making assumptions.

To an Optimist the glass is half full

To a Pessimist the glass is half empty

To an Engineer .............. the glass is too big.

Actually it is the correct size to allow for expansion and ullage! ;)