Should Vinoly’s Walkie Talkie skyscraper be demolished?

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One of Britain’s leading art critics is calling for Rafael Vinoly’s controversial Walkie Talkie skyscraper to be torn down.

The building, recently branded Britain’s ugliest, has been blamed for reflecting concentrated beams of sunlight which damaged shops and cars and creating downdrafts which blow pedestrians off their feet.

The London “fryscraper” – also dubbed the “Walkie Scorchie” but officially known as 20 Fenchurch Street – was last week awarded the Carbuncle Cup which Building Design magazine annually gives out to the worst structure in Britain.

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Writing in The Guardian newspaper Jonathan Jones said: “London is being wrecked by outrageous crimes against architectural taste. Walking around the City, it really seems there is a competition to put up the most cynically flashy, vacuously ahistorical and insensitive eyesores. A corporate dystopia is being built before our eyes.

“There are two terrible differences between architecture and other art forms – permanence and prominence. No one is making us read books we don’t like and even the lousiest art exhibition soon ends, but the ludicrous warped ostentation of the Walkie Talkie is not going anywhere, no matter how many prizes for bad architecture it wins, nor can anyone in or near the City of London avoid its manic parody of modernity.

“It’s time to reject this fatalistic sense that grandiose design mistakes are irreversible – that we just have to put up with them. I seriously think this building should be done away with.”

His negative view is backed by London’s Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic who added: “Nobody – not even, so I have reliably been told, its designer, Rafael Vinoly – is happy with the way that 20 Fenchurch Street has turned out.”

But Sudjic disagreed about a solution to the issue: “But much as I would wish this unappetising lump gone, dynamiting it, or, more likely dismantling it piece by piece over a couple of years, is not a great idea. We demolish far too many buildings, too quickly. It is enormously wasteful, and it creates the idea that there are quick fix answers to tough problems.”

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