Horrible shape versus hideous monstrosity in bad building battle

The hunt is on over the coming days for the ugliest building to blight the green and pleasant landscape of Britain.

Student halls, a budget hotel, a “vertical pier” and what has been described as a “characterless lump” will battle it out for the title of Britain’s least popular design alongside a structure known as “The Dumpster”.

The shortlist for the annual Carbuncle Cup has been revealed, highlighting six new buildings judged to be the latest “architectural travesties” erected.


The name of the competition was inspired by Prince Charles’s description of Richard Rogers proposed but never started National Gallery extension as a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved friend”. The satirical  counterpart to the prestigious Stirling Prize is annually compiled from hundreds of nominations sent in by readers of trade publication  Building Design.

First on the list is a project that has had the unenviable distinction of being the most-nominated development in the history of the list of shame.

Castle Mill housing in Oxford, designed by Frankham Consultancy Group, is comprised of eight blocks of Oxford University student accommodation next to Port Meadow, an area of land beside the River Thames that has hardly changed in thousands of years. The project was earlier described as like building a ‘”skyscraper next to Stonehenge”.

Another block of student accommodation – which cost $27 million and was designed by Stephen George & Partners – was initially refused its planning permission on the grounds that not enough light would enter to allow anyone to bare living there.

The student lifestyle saved the application at 465 Caledonian Road, near King’s Cross, after an inspector decided that rooms would only be used for sleeping – so they didn’t need their legal quota of natural light.

Next, Stock Woolstencroft’s residential  Avant Garde building on Bethnal Green Road in Shoreditch, London, was slammed as a “’hideous monstrosity… a characterless lump that is totally out of scale to the buildings around it.”

The third London newly build structure to make the shortlist is the 234-room Premier Inn on York Road in Waterloo, designed by Hamiltons, part of which is housed in a listed former maternity hospital.

Building Design said: “The Premier Inn in Lambeth is a travesty in more ways than one – we shudder at its lumpen form and mourn the building demolished to make way for it.” Also making the running the  Redcar Beacon by Smeeden Foreman Architects was slammed as “shape making gone horribly, horribly wrong.”

The 80ft tower – reminiscent of a fun-fair helter-skelter – was unveiled as the centrepiece of a $110 million seafront regeneration of the seaside town. It was described as a “vertical pier”, but critics said they would have preferred a horizontal one instead.

Making up the final place is the Porth Eirias Watersports Centre in Colwyn Bay, Wales, by K2 Architects.

Also part of a multimillion pound seafront redevelopment, its waste skip-like shape led locals to dub it “the dumpster”.

A final “winner” will be selected by a jury including Building Design executive editor Ellis Woodman and critics Owen Hatherley and Gillian Darley and announced on Friday (August 30).

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