R. Bouwmeester & Associates, a civil engineering firm, provides specialized sun and shadow position modeling services related to traffic collision and crime scene reconstruction, and urban development, site planning and building design projects.
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Fryscrapers - Tall buildings that cook their surroundings
The stories below
highlight the immense power of the sun, especially when its rays are
concentrated and focussed inadvertently as a result of the design/shape of the building. These examples have been well-documented and
they have gained world-wide attention. Two are currently (Sep 2013) in the news
- Walkie Talkie and Museum Tower.
Could these problems
have been avoided? Certainly! With careful design of the building's shape and
orientation, and proper selection of exterior materials.
Think lighting fires
with a magnifying glass, or cooking with a solar cooker! Not what you want to
do with a building - unless of course you find a way to capture and re-use
the heat and energy.
Walkie Talkie, London,
The "Walkie Talkie" building, currently (Sep 2013) under
construction in London, England, has had its fair share of publicity lately.
And not all good! It's been nick-namedWalkieScorchie
and Wok-ie Talkie.
The 37-storey glass
tower has been accused of everything from melting car parts on a Jaguar, to
melting bicycle seats, to setting a door mat on fire, to frying an egg, to
setting a reporter's hair on fire (apparently while he too was trying to fry an
The reason: The
concave shape focusses the sun's rays onto a small area
- much like a magnifiying glass or a parabolic solar
The Museum Tower is a
42-storey condo tower currently (Sep 2013) under construction in Dallas,
Texas. It neighbours the Nasher
Sculpture Center which houses a gallery that depends on specially filtered
sunlight, a feature that was painstakingly designed into the building in
1993. Fast forward to 2013.
The glass walls of
the tower reflect sunlight onto the glass roof of the gallery during the
afternoons. The result: the museum’s art gets fried.
Now a 2-year battle
has resulted in City Council and the arts community demanding solutions and one
man losing his job.
Experts are currently
exploring options including re-designing the gallery’s special glass roof and
adding retractable shades to the tower. So far, neither side can
agree on the solution. Either way, the local sentiment seems to be
that the Museum Tower owes the gallery the quality of light it so much depends
on. Sadly, the cost would likely be borne by the City’s police and
firefighters because the Museum Tower is being developed by their pension