"A hideous mess," "crass," "over-scaled," "[an] assault on all your senses from the moment you leave the Tube station." The judges were unsparing in their criticism of PLP Architecture's new London development, the Nova Victoria, which emerged the winner of the Carbuncle Cup, architecture's least wanted trophy. This is the sixth year in a row a London project has been crowned Carbuncle-of-the-year, annually awarded by Building Design (BD) a British architecture publication for the ugliest building to have been completed in the U.K. over the previous year. Among the six firms nominated for this year's Carbuncle Cup in the U.K., the largest studio, London-based PLP Architecture, walked away with the prize. Situated in the heart of London, PLP's Nova Victoria is one of the first set of structures people see when exiting Victoria Railway Station. And the sight that welcomes those unfortunate commuters, if they can see past the ongoing construction work, is a gargantuan up-turned arrowhead that is as red as the architects' faces might be today. Lee Polisano, president at PLP, told The Guardian that the building's color "is a reference to Victoria being an important transport interchange, so we chose a color that’s synonymous with transport in London." The developer behind Nova Victoria is Land Securities (LandSec) and this project is their second worthy of the Carbuncle Cup. Rafael Viñoly’s car-melting Walkie-Talkie building was the first in 2015. Nova, LandSec's most recent architectural clunker, houses offices, restaurants, and 170 apartments starting at $940,000. The $500 million project is described on its own website as "ultra-modern, beautifully engineered and architecturally daring. A statement for living amid the grandeur of Westminster and Belgravia." This apparent "statement," it seems, has not worn well on many critics. "Nova should have been good as it’s a prestige site. It makes me want to cringe physically," remarked judge Catherine Croft who is also director of the C20 Society in the U.K. The scathing didn't end there, either. Fellow judge David Rudlin lamented: "There’s no variety and you can’t read the floors." Speaking of the arrowhead, he added, "It’s got the same proportions as Salisbury Cathedral. For me the spire gives it carbuncular status–otherwise it’s just a bad building." BD editor Thomas Lane said also poured on the scorn. "The architect appears to have been inspired by the fractured, angular shapes beloved of stararchitects like Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind and applied these to a run-of-the-mill spec office development," he said. For all of Nova Victoria's flaws, it could have been worse. It's hard to imagine, but as The Guardian's Oliver Wainwright noted, three 40-story towers were proposed to Westminster Council in 2007. This was rejected, and rightfully so, for the project would have cast its Victorian surroundings in shadow. Worth noting too, is that views of and from Buckingham Palace would have been somewhat spoiled.
Posts tagged with "PLP Architecture":
A list of seven firms (three French and four international) have been selected by the Ensemble Immobilier Tour Maine-Montparnasse (EITMM) as part of the second round of a competition to redesign the much-maligned Montparnasse Tower in Paris. Built in 1973, the 690-foot (59 story) high-rise has been the regular subject of scorn from Parisians and architects alike. Now Dutch studio OMA; British practice, PLP; French architect Dominique Perrault, and Chicago firm Studio Gang among others are in the running to take on the tower's redesign. Known as the Tour Montparnasse, the building changed city planning policy after its completion 33 years ago. Buildings in the French capital were banned from rising above seven stories two years after it was constructed, a policy that has allowed the skyscraper to remain as Paris's tallest building. The full list of firms vying to re-imagine the tower can be found below:
- Architecture Studio (France)
- Dominique Perrault Architecture (France)
- MAD Architects (China) & DGLA (France)
- nAOM (Franklin Azzi Architecture, Chartier Dalix, Hardel-Lebihan Architectes) (France)
- OMA (The Netherlands)
- PLP Architecture (UK)
- Studio Gang (USA)
Designed by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon after the Blitz destroyed most of the site, the Barbican estate is now Grade II listed (part of a statutory list of buildings of special Architectural or historic interest). As a result, the area has become synonymous with concrete, being a famed brutalist site. PLP Architecture and the University of Cambridge, however, have different ideas. They're proposing a 984-foot wooden skyscraper, the city's first, at the center of the estate. The skyscraper, according to PLP, is merely for "research." Despite this, the firm said that they had presented the idea to current London Mayor Boris Johnson and said that his response was "positive." The Mayor also commented that natural materials like wood are currently “vastly underused.” Already, the timber tower has been dubbed the "Toothpick" by The Architect's Journal, such is the way of nicknaming skyscrapers in London, already home to the "Walkie-talkie," the "Gherkin," and the "Cheesegrater." Despite its radical change in materiality, the Toothpick aligns with the Barbican's original plan of providing housing at the center of the city, overseeing the creation of 1,000 new living units. Despite being slimmer than the iconic 42 story (404 feet) Cromwell, Shakespeare, and Lauderdale Towers, the wooden skyscraper would almost be double their height at 80 stories high. This would make it the city's second tallest building, second only to Renzo Piano's Shard. As for the towers environmental impact, the Toothpick would "lock-in 50,000 tonnes of CO2 in the building timber frame, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 5,000 Londoners." The project is in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and Smith and Wallwork Engineers. Dr Michael Ramage, Director of Cambridges Centre for Natural Material Innovation, said: "The Barbican was designed in the middle of the last century to bring residential living into the city of London—and it was successful. We've put our proposals on the Barbican as a way to imagine what the future of construction could look like in the 21st century." "We now live predominantly in cities and so the proposals have been designed to improve our wellbeing in an urban context," added Kevin Flanagan, Partner at PLP Architecture. "Timber buildings have the potential architecturally to create a more pleasing, relaxed, sociable and creative urban experience. Our firm is currently designing many of Londons tall buildings, and the use of timber could transform the way we build in this city." When asked if PLP would be presenting the "research" to the next Mayor of London, their response was: "it depends who the mayor is!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLPlJsoVq8k
Only six years old, London-based architecture firm PLP formed as a break away from KPF. Despite its age, the firm already has some noteworthy projects under its belt including the award winning The Edge in Amsterdam. Principals David Leventhal and Andrei Martin have recently designed one more, the Nexus Tower in the Pearl River Delta in China. The skyscraper comprises three stacked volumes, all of which are oriented differently upon a central axis acting as an elevator shaft. Martin is quick to say that this is not the core of the building, explaining that each volume has it's own core, situated on its outer edge. Such a feature "challenges the central core [office] typology," explained Martin. The Nexus Tower boasts quadruple-height informal spaces, all clad in glass, so that incumbent offices can advertise (for free) to passers by how much "fun" their employees are having. Exterior elevator shafts on each volume's "core" also aid legibility. This allows the public to witness inter-floor circulation as elevators travel up and down the facade, giving the impression of activity within the building. Set to rise 1,968 feet, the Nexus Tower will be the tallest of the structures within PLP's larger master plan. Other structures include The Platform for Contemporary Arts, a performing arts complex; The LZ Park Tower, a 984-foot office tower; and The Concourse, a large scale retail and leisure facility. Height and the lateral loads the tower must sustain were heavily influential in the design of the Nexus Tower. By fanning out the volumes, lateral loads could be divided up, reducing the overall impact. This also gave the building some visual diversity too, with each volume having a different view out over the city, mountains, and suburbs. The subsequent roof areas were adapted as terracing and green spaces. There is currently no construction timetable for the tower.