Carbuncle Cup

Shortlist revealed for Britain’s ugliest building of the year

Architecture Awards International
5 Broadgate (Courtesy e-architect via Facebook)
5 Broadgate (Courtesy e-architect via Facebook)

The shortlist for the least desirable architectural accolade in Britain has been unveiled. Comprising six unfortunate finalists, the winner will be awarded the Carbuncle Cup, a trophy which has become the stuff of nightmares for architects with projects in the U.K.

The Carbuncle Cup is now in its tenth successive year and is proving to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek response from Building Design (BD) to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Stirling Prize. Pedigree, it seems, won’t save you: Foster+Partners and Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners have previously made the list for their Moor House office development and One Hyde Park projects, respectively, which are both in London.

Past winners include the Strata SE1 building in south London by BFLS and the Cutty Sark renovation in Greenwich by Grimshaw Architects. Last year, Rafael Viñoly’s car-melting 20 Fenchurch Sreet (a.k.a. The Walkie-Talkie Tower) in London took the prize. Take a look at this year’s finalists below.

Saffron Square
Location: Croydon, London
Architect: Rolfe Judd

First on the “to-roast” list is Saffron Square (otherwise known as Saffron Tower) in Croydon, south London. Though Croydon currently holds the crown as having U.K.’s fastest growing local economy, the news surrounding its architecture scene has not been so positive. Developer Berkeley Homes’s offering, whose colorfully-clad tower can be seen from many-a-mile, has been described as having a “car crash of a facade.”

A photo posted by Sia Pik Liang (@siapikliang) on

The Diamond
Sheffield
Twelve Architects

This building in Yorkshire may provide accommodation for engineering students at the University of Sheffield, however, it is apparently “dwarfing” and “drowning” is neighboring church with its interior being “wasted,” “unused,” and “outrageously mismanaged.”


Beautiful day for a skate, this spot in Hanley is awesome!! #spotcheck #skate #metrogrammed #summerishere

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One Smithfield
Stoke-on-Trent
RHWL Architects

“An aesthetic mutation between the nostalgic 1980s brain games of Connect 4 and Blockbusters might not seem like a natural breeding ground for architectural malevolence but this building proves what happens when color goes rogue,” wrote BD in a scathing analysis of the multi-colored structure.

(Courtesy Glendale Construction Limited)

(Courtesy Glendale Construction Limited)

Poole Methodist Church extension
Poole, Dorset
Intelligent Design Centre

Churches have not faired well according to this year’s iteration of the Carbuncle Cup. This extension to the existing gothic church has been derided as a building that “screams of the same bland, belligerent mediocrity that is the insidious moniker of ostensibly polite and ubiquitous background architecture everywhere.”

5 Broadgate
London
Make Architects

Make Architects’s 5 Broadgate is one of three buildings from London (last year had four) and the largest on the list. Such is the scorn that the structure has received that developers of the nearby 22 Bishopsgate project called 5 Broadgate the “worst large building in the City for 20 years.” Ominously, last year’s biggest building happened to be 20 Fenchurch Street (The Walkie-Talkie), the eventual winner.

Lincoln Plaza
London
BUJ Architects

Last on the ill-fated architectural honors list is Lincoln Plaza. “31 stories of bilious cladding are piled one on top of the other to create an assortment of haphazardly assembled facades that are crude, jarring and shambolic,” wrote BD in an unforgiving critique of the high-rise. And that wasn’t all. “Were that not enough, the facades enwrap a grotesque Jenga game of rabid rectilinear blocks of no discernible form or profile and perforated by a series of balconies which one reader surmises “are an open invitation to commit suicide.”


The winner of the Carbuncle Cup will be announced next Wednesday.

The jury comprises Thomas Lane, BD editor, Ike Ijeh, architect and architectural critic, Ben Flatman,author, architect and BD columnist, and Julian Robinson, London School of Economic’s director of estates, who was responsible for commissioning 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize finalist the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre.
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