• Kevin Murphy

Carbuncle Cup 2017: Britain's Worst Designed Building is Named

The votes are in for this years recipient of the Carbuncle Cup, the architecture award for Britain’s worst building. There were a total of six finalists in this years list which featured a variety of building types and is seen as a representation of what designers and planners are building today.

The annual award is described by magazine Building Design as being for:

‘Carbuncle Cup contenders suffer from a range of sins including gross overdevelopment, eye popping cladding, overbearing massing, a gross disregard for context, incoherent form, overblown ‘statement’ buildings, weak planning and the just plain, cheap and nasty.’

The 2017 List

First on the list is the Nova Victoria which was damaged by aerial bombing in World War II and refurbished in the 1960’s. It is once again undergoing new development by Land Securities. The 897,000 square foot property is under the direction of architect PLP describing the plans as:

‘...attempted to break up the monolithic nature of these scheme by expressing it as a pair of sliced and chamfered towers and jazzing it up with several bright red prows presumably to give it that ‘landmark’ quality. Instead several readers questioned how it got planning.’

Preston Railway Station Butler Street

The entrance of this station was constructed to replace a 1980’s building with a Victorian style and was widely scorned by locals who described the new building as an “eyesore”, “hideous”, “a joke” and “planning gone mad”.

The nominator for this years award was by Steve Webberley, he said:

“This fractured geometric lean-to would seem out of date 10 years ago. It isn’t even that well-planned inside. The relationship with the window line of the brick station is laughable. We’ve come a long way from Brunel. A very long way…'

Greetham Street Student Halls, Portsmouth

Designed by Cooley Architects its often referred to as the ‘fag butt’ by locals with its two tone cladding featuring a tan and beige circular tower.The nominator, Kieran Clarke said, ‘It seems that the building’s architects were either colour blind when choosing the external cladding or wanted to blind others with the bright yellow cube at the top of their tower.’

8 Somers Road, Malvern

Designed by by Vivid Architects this home has had its share of additions with the description of ‘subservient and understated with a crisp modern aesthetic distinct from the historic house’. Robert Smith who nominated this property for this years Carbuncle Cup disagreed, he describes the extension as resembling a ‘Lego brick’. He said, ‘I am aware that planning guidelines today are to keep a clear boundary between new and old structures, but the architect has made no attempt to unify the house and now most people assume this family home to be a medical centre.’

Circus West, Battersea Power Station, London

Next contender is Circus West, part of the massive development being undertaken at the infamous Battersea Power Station. The station is the largest brick building ever built in Europe and now is being dwarfed by the massive surrounding construction complex designed by Simpson Haugh. Critics say its, ‘A great case of gross over development - it’s disgusting!’, and ‘Now we’re talking…. might as well stop the rest of the nominations being listed. We have a winner right here.’

Park Plaza London Waterloo

This 1950’s property that was once a government building refurbished as a hotel by ESA Architecture. Its appearance has been described:

‘The lower storeys are swathed in tiles whose pattern would cause havoc on a TV screen, and whose colours manage to be both gaudy and drab at the same time.’

‘To draw attention to the entrance, the architects lifted the cornice at one corner and wrapped a weird screen around it. It looks like the skin has been peeled from someone’s torso, exposing a spaghetti of blood vessels and veins beneath.’

And the 2017 Winner is...

Just announced is this years Carbuncle Cup 2017 winner and the prize for Britain’s worst building is given to contestant number one: the Nova Victoria adjacent to Buckingham Palace and Victoria Station.

Twentieth Century Society Director Catherine Croft said of the the property: “Nova should have been good as it’s a prestige site. It makes me want to cringe physically. It’s a crass assault on all your senses from the moment you leave the Tube station.”

Previous winners of the cup include Rafael Viñoly's London skyscraper often referred to as the Walkie Talkie architect Rafael Viñoly has admitted he knew the facade of his curvy Walkie Talkie skyscraper in London would focus an intense beam of sunlight onto a neighbouring street, but says that he "didn't realise it was going to be so hot".

Speaking to Guardian Viñoly said that his curvaceous 37-storey tower, 20 Fenchurch Street, was originally designed with horizontal sun louvres that would prevent a glare strong enough to melt the paint and bodywork of parked vehicles on Eastcheap Street, but that they were removed to cut costs.

"We made a lot of mistakes with this building," he said, "and we will take care of it."

"When it was spotted on a second design iteration, we judged the temperature was going to be about 36 degrees," he said. "But it's turned out to be more like 72 degrees. They are calling it the 'death ray', because if you go there you might die. It is phenomenal, this thing."

Awarded Carbuncle Cup in 2013 the skyscraper of a student housing scheme was described as ‘prison-like’ and ‘an open invitation to commit suicide.’

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