Thursday24 August 2017

Carbuncle Cup 2013 shortlist revealed

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The six buildings that are one step closer to winning architecture’s wooden spoon…

Launched eight years ago, The Carbuncle Cup was designed as a humorous counterpart to the prestigious Stirling Prize. Since then it has become a regular - if controversial - fixture in the architectural calendar.

Carbuncle Cup

Source: Stuart Harrison

Carbuncle Cup

Even in times of economic turmoil, when few major projects are being built, hundreds of architectural travesties are allowed to pass through our planning system on a weekly basis. Few of these are ever truly exposed for the awfulness they represent - lazy design, compromised planning departments and cynical development.

After years of starchitect boom, this year Carbuncle Cup has returned to its roots, seeking out some of the worst everyday projects from across the country.

Our shortlist was whittled down from public nominations submitted to BD via email. Public comments on Bdonline supporting or against each nomination were considered during the shortlisting.

A final winner will be selected by a jury including BD executive editor Ellis Woodman and critics Owen Hatherley and Gillian Darley. The winner will be announced on August 30.

The Carbuncle Cup Shortlist 2013:

Castle Mill housing, Port Meadow, Oxford, by Frankham Consultancy Group

The Castle Mill housing development in Oxford is the most nominated project in the history of Carbuncle Cup. Since BD first named the development as one of this year’s nominees, the controversy surrounding the development has escalated further and it is now at the centre of a judicial review bid.

Port Meadow

465 Caledonian Road, London, by Stephen George & Partners

Also in the student housing category is this rather excellent example of facadism which can be spotted on London’s Caledonian Road.

465 Caledonian Road, London, by Stephen George&Partners

Source: Ellis Woodman

465 Caledonian Road carbuncle cup nomination


Avant Garde, 34-42 Bethnal Green Road, London, by Stock Woolstencroft

Sticking with residential monstrosities: this grossly over-scaled development in East London was bad enough before they gave it such an inappropriate name.

Stock Woolstencroft's Avant Garde

Source: Andrea Klettner

Stock Woolstencroft’s Avant Garde


Redcar Beacon aka the Vertical Pier, Redcar, by Seven Architecture and Smeeden Foreman **

Redcar’s ‘beacon’; shape making gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Redcar Beacon

Source: submitted by nominator

Redcar Beacon


Porth Eirias Watersports Centre, Colwyn Bay, Wales, by K2 Architects

Porth Eirias sports centre had so much potential before multiple revisions and cost cutting led to the Creation of this, known not-so-affectionally as ‘the dumpster’ by locals.


Premier Inn, Lambeth, London, by Hamiltons*

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.






Readers' comments (16)

  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    Yep - nothing by CZWG. No surprise.

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  • grapefruit

    why only six? where is the shard? wheres is piers?

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  • Austin Clegg

    The Shard clearly has friends in high places (literally).

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  • Mark Deverill

    465 Caledonian Road gets my vote!

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    @grapefruit - you'll never see "piers" on the Carbuncle list. He's "loved".

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  • jon5465

    The Shard doesn't make the cut... outraged.

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  • Caledonian Road is interesting because it speaks to some of the reasons for bad building more generally - a half-arsed nod toward preserving some pretty generic 'heritage' in such an inept way that spoils both the 'heritage' and the development. Also there seems to be a special category of crapness reserved for student housing.

    Which brings us to Port Meadow. Such cack-handed offerings as this in a sensitive site is one of the reasons why people resist development in general.

    I don't think it's fair to call the Avant Garde one over-scaled, when you consider the social and environmental contexts, rather than just the built context. It's a sustainable place to put housing and a great area to live in.

    The Redcar one is clearly the worst building just considering the thing in itself... possibly ever. I was going to say that the fashion for building some preposterous tat to drive some frivolity-led regeneration effort had run its course now, then noticed the image with the Orbit at the Olympics, so possibly not.

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  • The Shard is a true carbuncle disfiguring the whole of the London skyline. The others are mere pimples.

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  • I think this shortlist gets it about right. The ones that have been removed arguably had some merit, whereas it's difficult to defend the shortlisted entries. Judging a "winner" will ultimately be a subjective call.

    Porth Eirias (aka "The Skip") gets my vote, though - due to context (prominently situated on beautiful coast) and its banal ugliness.

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    @ Mark Deverill _ has anyone ever noticed the striking similarity between yourself and the considerably more odious Daniel LIbeskind? I think we should be told.

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