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Published in Architecture on 07/09/2017

London’s Nova Victoria crowned UK’s Ugliest building

#Carbunclecup

CNI Editor reports

A London office block described as a “bright red hideous mess” has been named the UK’s worst building.

Nova, a pair of London office buildings developed by Land Securities Group Plc and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, is the worst new property in Britain, according to a panel assembled by architectural website Building Design.

The 44,600 sq m (480,000 sq ft) buildings were designed by PLP Architecture Ltd and tenants include BHP Billiton Plc and Egon Zehnder.

It’s the second time in three years that a project involving the UK’s largest real estate investment trust has won the so-called Carbuncle Cup.

NovaImage copyrightBD
Image captionPLP described the £380m office complex as “distinct and architecturally daring”

The 2015 award was bestowed on the Walkie Talkie, the skyscraper that Land Securities jointly developed at 20 Fenchurch Street.

Judge Catherine Croft said: “It makes me want to cringe physically. It’s a crass assault on all your senses from the moment you leave the Tube station.”

David Rudlin said the red cathedral like spire on Nova South was a particular cause for concern.

“It’s got the same proportions as Salisbury Cathedral. For me the spire gives it carbuncular status – otherwise it’s just a bad building”, he said.

The title was awarded to PLP Architecture for the office buildings.


The other buildings on the 2017 Carbuncle Cup shortlist were as follows:

  • Preston Railway Station Butler Street Entrance by AHR
  • Greetham Street Student Halls, Portsmouth by Cooley Architects
  • Extension on 8 Somers Road, Malvern, Worcestershire by Vivid Architects
  • Circus West, Battersea Power Station, London by Simpson Haugh
  • Park Plaza London Waterloo by ESA Architecture

Circus WestImage copyrightBD
Image captionCircus West, Battersea Power Station was shortlisted for the 2017 award

Building Design started the award in 2006 as a “light-hearted way of drawing attention to a serious problem – bad architecture blighting the country’s towns and cities”.

Past winners have included Liverpool’s ferry terminal, the renovation of the Cutty Sark and an apartment block incorporating a branch of Tesco in Woolwich, south-east London.

Readers put forward the nominations and a panel draws up the shortlist.

PLP said it did not want to comment on the announcement.


London’s Carbuncle Cup six-year winning streak

Lincoln PlazaImage copyrightBD ONLINE
Image captionLincoln Plaza in London’s Docklands won the 2016 Carbuncle Cup with one judge describing it as a “horror show”
Woolwich CentralImage copyrightBUILDING DESIGN
Image captionWoolwich Central was one of two buildings shortlisted that was developed by Tesco subsidiary Spenhill
464 Caledonian RoadImage copyrightBD MAGAZINE
Image caption464 Caledonian Road stands on the same street as HMP Pentonville
Cutty SarkImage copyrightGOOGLE
Image captionThe restoration of the Cutty Sark won the award in 2012

“The architect appears to have been inspired by the fractured, angular shapes beloved of star architects like Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind and applied these to a run-of-the-mill spec office development,” Thomas Lane, editor of the website for architects, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The result is two large blocks sliced and diced to create a series of angular volumes drunkenly leaning on each other.”

Nova was selected by the judges ahead of a shortlist that included an apartment block at Battersea Power Station and the Park Plaza London Waterloo hotel. Entries for the award are submitted by readers.