Building Bunk

The Carbuncle Cup rewards Britain’s worst building of 2018

Architecture Awards International
Redrock Stockport, the winner of this year's Carbuncle Cup (Courtesy BD)

Norman Foster was born there, it has a glass pyramid, and now, Stockport, U.K., has a Carbuncle Cup–winning building to boast as well. The town, which is south of Manchester, was the subject of derision and scorn this week as Redrock Stockport, a $58-million leisure complex and car park, claimed British architecture’s least wanted prize: the Carbuncle Cup.

Architecture’s wooden spoon, the Carbuncle Cup is an annual competition run by Building Design magazine that throws the U.K.’s worst buildings into the somewhat unwanted limelight.

Designed by architecture practice BDP‘s Manchester office as part of a regeneration scheme for the area, Redrock Stockport offers shops, restaurants, a movie theater, gym, and a multistory garage. However, despite proving to be a popular destination for local residents, the scheme has suffered the wrath of numerous critics. Carbuncle judges Thomas Lane, Ike Ijeh, Jonathan Glancey, and Rosemarie McQueen did not hold back.

Redrock Stockport

Redrock Stockport (Courtesy BD)

“You feel sorry for the people of Stockport,” they said, adding that the project is a “sad metaphor for our failing high streets.”

The judges continued:

Urban regeneration can be a good thing, but when it becomes an excuse to foist bad architecture on to struggling communities in the cynical pursuit of an ‘anything is better than what was there before’ methodology, it simply recycles the resentment regeneration was supposed to redress.

The fact that there are multiple examples of this kind of garish, soul-less leisure shed architecture in U.K. towns doesn’t let Redrock off the hook: It puts more of those responsible for our built environment in the dock.

BDP is an established global firm with offices across Asia and Europe. The judges warned how the project could hurt its reputation. “It’s like BDP has trodden on a piece of chewing gum and it will stick to their shoe for the next 40 years,” they said.

The practice was shortlisted with five other projects, one of which came from London firm PLP Architecture whose Nova Victoria scheme won the Carbuncle Cup last year.

GROUPWORK + Amin Taha Architects' 15 Clerkenwell Close

GROUPWORK + Amin Taha Architects’ 15 Clerkenwell Close in London, U.K. (Courtesy Jason Sayer)

As is it’s nature, the Carbuncle Cup did attract some controversy this year. Though the project didn’t make the final shortlist, London studio GROUPWORK + Amin Taha Architects’ 15 Clerkenwell Close was nominated, something which caused a stir among the architecture community. The scheme is also nominated for this year’s RIBA London Prize, being heavily praised for its stone facade. Its Carbuncle nominator, however, thought differently, dismissing it instead as “ruin porn.”

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