Vinoly's Walkie Talkie on track to win ugliest building award
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Vinoly's Walkie Talkie on track to win ugliest building award

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London's Walkie Talkie, also known as 20 Fenchurch Street, has suffered a barrage of criticism since its inception – and now it takes a place on the shortlist for the Carbuncle Cup, the award for the UK’s ugliest building.

The shortlist for the ignominious award – which is run by the publication Building Design – was announced today (28 August) and includes five others. The winner will be announced on 2 September.

The six projects in the running make depressing viewing, though they have at least inspired commentary that makes for an amusing read. With university halls of residence dominating the shortlist, it seems students are bearing the brunt of the UK’s worst architecture.

Woodward Hall student accommodation (Careyjones Chapmantolcher) was so bad it inspired one man to become an MP. “This development should really be the architects’ tombstone,” he reportedly said.

Also on the shortlist is the Whittle Building student accommodation at the University of Cambridge (John Simpson Architects). It was described by Building Design as being “borrowed from a major housebuilder’s style book”.

And Southampton University’s new residential building (Fluid Design) is referred to locally as the “fag butt”.

Still, the Walkie Talkie, by Rafael Vinoly, has been the most contentious of the lot, no doubt because of its £220m (US$308m, €273m) price tag and prominent position on the capital’s skyline. Criticisms have mainly focused on its looks and on the oppressive shape of the building – which tapers outwards at the top, negatively impacting the ground below and surrounding streets, causing wind tunnels and solar glare.

The building – which opened its Sky Garden in January – was described by architecture critic Ike Ijeh as “a gratuitous glass gargoyle graffitied onto the skyline of London”.

The final two buildings on the shortlist for architecture’s wooden spoon are Waltham Forest YMCA building (Kilgour Architects) and Parliament House in Lambeth, London.

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London's Walkie Talkie, also known as 20 Fenchurch Street, has suffered a barrage of criticism since its inception – and now it takes a place on the shortlist for the Carbuncle Cup, the award for the UK’s ugliest building.
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