Britain’s leading architectural minds are desperate to see their designs named the most spectacular when prizes are handed out for the most impressive structures each year.
But there is one accolade they could all do without – the Carbuncle Cup – the award for the ugliest building in the country.
This year’s six finalists include a £375million regeneration scheme in south London that experts claim ‘hasn’t really regenerated anything at all’, a student residence in Plymouth that looks ‘disturbingly similar’ to a Las Vegas hotel jokingly named New York New York, and a £45million Stockport leisure centre that looks like an ‘old container shed’.
The unlucky shortlist has been whittled down by magazine Building Design, who came up with the idea in 2006 as a light-hearted sneer at some of the worst new structures in the country.
The name of the unusual competition comes from Prince Charles’s notorious 1986 attack on the proposed extension for the National Portrait Gallery in London when he described it as a ‘monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend’.
As the big announcement of Carbuncle Cup winner 2018 approaches, MailOnline looks at the buildings vying for this year’s title.
Lewisham Gateway, south London
Lewisham Gateway is a £375m urban regeneration scheme that aims to comprehensively redevelop the town centre of London’s thirteenth largest borough. It has required the complete redesign of one of south London’s most mind-boggling gyratories and the re-routing of two rivers.
Building Design editor Thomas Lane has described phase one of the development to be ‘like a sneering street gang of four upturned middle fingers dumbly primed to hurl all manner of townscape obscenities at their unsuspecting environs’.
The two towers stand ‘bland and boxy’ covered in white cladding, with locals far from impressed.
Lewisham Gateway is a £375m urban regeneration scheme that aims to comprehensively redevelop the town centre of London’s thirteenth largest borough. It has required the complete redesign of one of south London’s most mind-boggling gyratories and the re-routing of two rivers
Shankly Hotel, Liverpool
The Shankly Hotel is an architectural gem, named after Liverpool FC legend Bill Shankly. It’s five-star interior is complimented by the impressively-maintained period facade.
But Building Design readers have slammed the latest rooftop extension as ‘grotesque’.
The modern, box-like structure was voted through by the city council’s planning committee. Far from ‘fitting in with the character of the area’, it has now been branded a ‘blight on the Liverpool skyline’.
The Shankly Hotel is an architectural gem, named after Liverpool FC legend Bill Shankly. It’s five-star interior is complimented by the impressively-maintained period facade. But Building Design has slammed the latest rooftop extension as ‘grotesque’
Redrock Stockport, Greater Manchester
The new £45million leisure centre Redrock Stockport, just south of Manchester, is another of the unfortunate buildings to appear on this year’s shortlist.
It boasts shopping facilities, a ten-screen cinema, restaurants, bars and a 340-space multi-storey car park.
But the block-like exterior has been likened to the ‘ugly, garish out-of-town container sheds that once encircled British towns and cities’ by Building Design.
At 75,000 square feet, it’s a real contender for this year’s lowliest architectural accolade.
The block-like exterior of RedRock leisure centre in Stockport, Greater Manchester has been likened to the ‘ugly, garish out-of-town container sheds that once encircled British towns and cities’ by Building Design
Haydn Tower, Vauxhall, south London
Vauxhall is no stranger to the Carbuncle Cup. The first nomination came in the form of St George’s Wharf in 2006, followed by its tower in 2014.
In 2015 the modestly-named Parliament House was among the worst six, beaten only by the notorious Walkie Talkie the other side of the Thames.
Now the black and red-clad Haydn Tower, just around the corner from the controversially located new US Embassy at Nine Elms, is in the running for the 2018 prize as well.
Vauxhall is no stranger to the Carbuncle Cup. The first nomination came in the form of St George’s Wharf in 2006. But now the black and red-clad Haydn Tower, just around the corner from the controversially located new US Embassy at Nine Elms, is in the running for the 2018 prize as well
Beckley Point, Plymouth
A student halls of residence in Plymouth is in the running for this year’s Carbuncle Cup thanks to its apparent nod to the Las Vegas Hotel, New York New York.
The Nevada gambling paradise has the quirky habit of making its hotels look the world’s most famous monuments. New York New York is no exception and is an obvious nod to Manhattan’s sprawling apartment blocks.
But Beckley Point, Building Design point out, is ‘no joke’. At 23 storeys high it sticks out like a sore thumb above Plymouth’s low-rise skyline.
It is the tallest building in the south west of England, but described by Building Design as follows: ‘The tower features vertical shafts of multi-coloured facades squashed together to form an awkwardly tapering ziggurat.
‘The entrance crudely slapped onto the base is bad but even worse is the pyramidal spire that sprouts from the top like the offending traffic cones inebriated students are so fond of proudly hoisting atop street furniture.’
A student halls of residence in Plymouth is in the running for this year’s Carbuncle Cup thanks to its apparent nod to the Las Vegas Hotel, New York New York. Beckley Point is the tallest building in the south west of England, but Building Design says: ‘The tower features vertical shafts of multi-coloured facades squashed together to form an awkwardly tapering ziggurat.’
Ambleside Avenue, Streatham, south London
This low-energy home is located in a conservation area of leafy Streatham, a southern London suburb. Despite its garish red and orange appearance it passed planning tests with flying colours.
Its small windows prevent heat loss and prison-like shutters instead of blocked out glass panes help bring a small amount of sunlight in.
But the ‘red-faced child’ has been slammed by Building Design editor Thomas Lane.
He said: ‘With its garish colours, unremitting red brickwork, louvered windows and blockish design behind a solid 6 foot wall the house is a clumsy and alien blot on the streetscape.
‘To add to the ugliness solar panels, not normally allowed in the conservation area, have been permitted.’
This low-energy home is located in a conservation area of leafy Streatham, a southern London suburb. Despite its garish red and orange appearance it passed planning tests with flying colours and now sits in Ambleside Avenue
A Victorian villa with a ‘Lego brick’ attached and a tower block called The Fag Butt: Britain’s six ugliest buildings that battled to be named the nation’s worst-looking last year
By Katie French for MailOnline
Somers Road, Malvern
One of the structures which got tongues wagging last year was an extension to a period property In Worcestershire. It contracted complaints for its Lego style brickwork.
It has been added to a four storey Victorian villa – which has a pitched tiled roof, decorative stone facades and light cream steps. From certain angles to be a picturesque, historic property.
But neighbours recoiled in horror when the owners erected a huge extension – which locals say resembles a light industrial unit – in July last year.
The vast rectangular box was put together using engineered stone tiles in a stack bond arrangement, and contains a living area and kitchen.
This extension to a Victorian property in Worcestershire (above) was among six nominated for last year’s Carbuncle Cup
In the planning application, it was stated that the stone clad extension would be ‘subservient and understated with a crisp modern aesthetic distinct from the historic house’.
The house on Somers Road is owned by Edward Elgar – a direct descendant of the famous composer of the same name who made Malvern his home.
Mr Elgar, 49, and his wife Charlotte, bought the house for £1 million in October 2014.
The extension was designed and built to be used as a kitchen/dining area.
Mrs Elgar’s father James Waits, 77, of Worcester, said: ‘Edward is a descendant of Sir Edward Elgar. I am not entirely sure what the link is, I believe he is a great nephew or something similar but he is certainly related.
One of the structures that got tongues wagging last year was an extension to a period property In Worcestershire. It contracted complaints for its Lego style brickwork (pictured)
‘I absolutely love the building. I think someone who nominated it for this award is suffering from jealously. It is a marvellous piece of architecture.’
Mr Elgar refused to comment on his link to the famous composer.
It is not the first time the couple have upset their neighbours with dramatic changes to their home.
In July 2015 the couple sparked anger from residents living nearby when they lodged a planning application to fell 30 trees on their land.
They applied to cut down 27 sycamores, one holly, one hazel and one cypress and were granted permission by Malvern Hills District Council.
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It is pretty sad that a relative of Malvern’s most famous sons is creating such a blot on the town.
‘I hate to say a cliché but I’ve heard it said that Sir Edward would be spinning in his grave if he knew how his relative was treating his beloved town.’
The building was one of six to be nominated for last year’s Carbuncle Cup – an architecture industry ‘prize’ given out by magazine Building Design to the ugliest building to be completed over that year
Robert Smith, who nominated the house in Malvern, Worcestershire, said: ‘The property is situated in a lovely, tree-lined street dominated by Victorian architecture, in a conservation area.
‘The house itself is believed to have been constructed during the late 1800’s, principally of brick, under a pitched tiled roof with part stone decorative facades.
He said: ‘While the owners are in many ways to be congratulated in taking on such a large restoration project, it is the extension of the property through the addition of what can only be described as a Lego brick that is so offensive to the eye.
‘To make matters worse, what cannot be seen from the photo is the fact that there was a Victorian single story building that was demolished to make way for the new monstrosity.
‘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.’
A spokesperson from Vivid Architects was unable to give comment.
Robert Smith, who nominated the house in Malvern, Worcestershire, said: ‘The extension of the property through the addition of what can only be described as a Lego brick that is so offensive to the eye’
Built in the 1960s after the Second World War, Nova Victoria seemed a icon of modern times.
But 50 years on, the area has being extensively redeveloped but sadly it isn’t to everyone’s taste.
Building Design Online reported: ‘The latest offering is Nova Victoria, a 897,000 square foot mixed-use development occupying a whole city block.
‘The architect, PLP has 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.
Nova Victoria: They blocked off streets and caused traffic problems when PLP Architecture carried out renovations to Nova Victoria in London, but was it all worth it? Apparently not, as the building has been nominated for last year’s Carbuncle Cup
Preston Railway Station Butler Street Entrance
The improved side entrance in front of Preston Station attracted attention for all the wrong reasons last June, after it was unveiled following months of work by Virgin Trains.
Residents took to social media in their droves to denounce the grey structure. One described it as a ‘carbuncle’ with another wondering ‘how the hell did that get planning permission for that?’
Operator Virgin Trains said it was a ‘contrasting structure to create a more modern and passenger friendly environment’.
‘It’s a cake tin slapped on the side!’: Virgin Trains may have spent thousands adding a new entrance to Preston’s railway station but locals weren’t pleased as they described it as ‘an eyesore’ and got it nominated for last year’s competition
The residents of Preston clearly preferred the former entrance variously describing the new building as an ‘eyesore’, ‘hideous’, ‘a joke’ and ‘planning gone mad’.
Nominator Steve Webberley described it to Building Design as a ‘deadening cake tin slapped on its side’. 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
Nicknamed ‘fag butt’, locals were unimpressed by the tan and beige tower block unveiled in 2017.
Greetham Street Student Halls features a two tone cladding and a jumble of multi-coloured rectilinear blocks at the base.
The nominator, Kieran Clarke told Building Design: ‘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.’
This student block of flats in Portsmouth appears to be the butt of many jokes in Portsmouth after locals likened its beige top to that of the remains of a used cigarette and nominated it for last year’s Carbuncle Cup
Park Plaza London Waterloo
This dowdy beige 1950s government building to hotel conversion has been jazzed up presumably to draw in the punters.
The lower 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.
From government building to almost-luxury hotel, the outside of this structure in London’s Waterloo has been jazzed up with a pattern in a bid to move away from its 1950s past
Circus West, Battersea Power Station, London
Part of the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, this scheme by London studio Simpson Haugh was nominated last year in part for its scale. ‘Circus West pulls off the feat of making Europe’s largest brick building look small and was a very popular nomination with the BD readership,’ said Lane.
‘Unfortunately, this scale of overdevelopment has been forced on the power station because of a series of bad deals made by a series of owners needing to recoup their investments.’
This gigantic development based in Battersea, London, managed to make Europe’s largest brick building look small