Bloated icons and dreary sheds go head to head in the race for the Carbuncle Cup
Clunky slabs and botched “landmarks” battle it out to win the coveted title of worst building of the year.
This year’s carbuncle nominees fall into two categories: the failed iconic, and the grimly mundane.
At one end of the spectrum we have Atkins and Grimshaw’s Newport Station and Bond Bryan’s Phoenix High School, both bleak attempts at novelty. One is a globular silver swoosh realised with the prosaic flair of design and build; the other has been likened to a pile of liquorice allsorts – because it is lurid and wonky. It is telling that Network Rail’s own promotional posters only show the station in a night-time view from the air, while the pupils of Phoenix now all want to become architects – surely so others may not have to suffer their fate.
Representing the bloated apogee in this pursuit of the iconic is the £72 million Museum of Liverpool, the bastard child of 3XN, AEW and several lawsuits. It is the ultimate flashy esquisse executed with the leaden hand of the local authority, a crumpled quilt of stone stretched back and forth until it sufficiently destroys the city’s majestic waterfront.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have three projects completely devoid of ambition, standing for the worst of the lumpen planner-friendly filler that blights our cities.
In desperately trying to avoid any suggestion of wasting licence-payers’ money, “MediaCityUK” has ended up as a field of mediocrity. An agglomeration of bulky slabs, dressed in cheap panelised systems, it is reminiscent of the kind of flimsy rubbish that airport terminals tend to accrue.
One Hyde Park is precisely the opposite, straining to appear as expensive and refined as possible, yet ending up looking like the product of a volume house-builder. It will not be the last silo of sheiks to sprout up in Knightsbridge, but it will be hard to beat its clunky detailing and mean-minded attitude to the street. Just where did that £1 billion go?
Finally, Brighton’s Ebenezer Chapel housing development by Molyneux Architects represents the depressing reality of most housing today – blunt expanses of render punctured by tiny windows. As our reader’s citation suggests, “It is these mediocre buildings that damage our cities more than bolder failures.”