We recently shared our top ten London skyscrapers that are being built this year. They all look pretty fancy right? But everything doesn’t always go to plan. These buildings are created by some of the world’s top architects, use sophisticated technology to conform to environmental standards and can cost billions to build, but sometimes things in these London architectural landmarks simply go wrong. For example…

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Bits fall off! 

cheesegrater building london architecture

Image credit: Matt Brown

The Cheesegrater or Leadenhall Building made headlines last year when it was reported that two of its 3000 bolts had fallen off. It was reported a third of the bolts – just under a metre long each – broke off this year. Apparently due to ‘hydrogen embrittlement’, it does mean that dozens of these bolts are now going to have to be replaced on the building.

Windows fall off! 

the gherkin London architecture

Image credit: Simon & His Camera

‘Safety fears’ were also raised about the Gherkin in 2005, after one of its giant glass windows fell to the ground.

They can melt cars!

walkie talkie london architecture

Image credit: [Duncan]

The Walkie-Talkie has been facing criticism this year from those slightly underwhelmed by its sky garden, but let’s not forget a couple of years ago when light reflecting from 20 Fenchurch Street was actually melting cars, as well as cracking tiles in nearby shops. The problem has now been addressed by applying a non-reflective film to the the south-facing concave facade. Architect Rafael Viñoly is quoted as saying “We made a lot of mistakes with this building,” … “and we will take care of it.” (As anyone parking their cars nearby will no doubt be pleased to hear…)

It’s too noisy! 

strata building sustainable architecture

Image credit: .Martin.

One of the key features of Strata in Elephant and Castle is the three wind turbines that top the building – they’re visible for miles around. Installed at a cost of an extra £1.5 million, it was thought that they would generate around 8% of the buildings electrical consumption. However, as many south residents will report, the turbines rarely appear to be turning. Some reports suggest it’s because of the noise and vibrations they create; others suggest it’s about their maintenance. Whether down to economics or design, this nod to sustainability simply seems to have failed.

You can’t watch the telly! 

one canada square london architecture

Image credit: Mikey

London’s buildings seem to have a history of not doing quite what you’d expect them to do. Canary’s Wharf’s One Canada Square, completed 1991, was the city’s first skyscraper. Clad in steel, creating a reflective surface around the building – however, it also blocked TV reception for around 100,000 residents of north London. Thankfully, the BBC built a new relay station, so the inconvenience was only short term, and north Londoners didn’t have to miss out on too much classic 90s telly.

People can see you on the loo! 

alternative london architecture the shard

Image credit: Ted Goodyer

You’d think that all the way up in The Shard you could get a bit of privacy. Not so. One report suggested all that reflective glass made going to the loo a bit of a nightmare. Another stated that guests staying at the exclusive Shangri-La hotel in the building were able to see into each others rooms at night, thanks to some of the glass panels acting as mirrors at night. Apparently blinds are available, if you don’t want to enjoy the view.

They’re too hard to maintain! 

Alternative London architecture Lloyds building

Image credit: Herry Lawford

But it’s not just recent buildings that face such problems. The Lloyd’s Building, designed by Richard Rogers, is famous for its “inside out” structure. However, having everything exposed to the elements, means that the building is incredibly costly to maintain – so much so that Lloyd’s might move out when their lease allows.

They’re a bit wobbly! 

Millenium bridge london architecture

Image credit: Paul Hudson

And finally, although it’s now a much loved part of the London architectural landscape, do you remember when the Millenium Bridge wobbled? So much so that it had to close three days after its grand opening in 2000, and undergo around two years of work to stabilise it. What caused the wobble? Well, apparently it was the combined effect of hundreds of people, each trying to keep their balance on the bridge. Ah pesky people – if only they’d stop ruining such great architectural schemes!

Want to find out more about London’s architecture? Why not try our modern architecture tours? We run one on sustainable architecture as well. 

Come and explore London’s curious skyline on our Modern Architecture Tour