Nova Victoria wins Carbuncle Cup as three London buildings make shortlist to be named 2017's worst

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A garish office development opposite London’s Victoria station has been crowned the UK’s ugliest building after winning the 2017 Carbuncle Cup.

Nova Victoria, a bright red £380m office complex, was among three of the capital’s buildings to make the shortlist for the architecture prize which is awarded annually by Building Design Magazine.

The first phase of Battersea power station’s residential development Circus West and Park Plaza at London Waterloo – a 1950s government building that has been transformed into a hotel – were also in the running for this year’s award.

Described by judges as “one of the worst office developments central London has ever seen”, the Nova building was especially criticised for the “bright red prows that adorn various points of the exterior like the inflamed protruding breasts of demented preening cockerels.

The development, which occupies a whole block in London’s Victoria, consists of two office buildings and a residential block. 

UK’s ugliest building: Nova Victoria

It is 18 storeys high from a pointed peak and bordered by Victoria Street, Bressenden Palace and Buckingham Palace Road. 

The judges also described the development as “crass”, “over-scaled” and “a hideous mess”.

Judge Catherine Croft said: “Nova should have been good as it’s a prestige site. It makes me want to cringe physically. It’s a crass assault on all your senses from the moment you leave the Tube station.”

It was largely designed by PLP Architecture, which is currently building the biggest office tower the City of London has ever seen at 22 Bishopsgate.

‘A great case of gross over development’: Circus West, Battersea Power Station (Building Design)

Lee Polisano, PLP President, said the red colour of the Nova building was “a reference to Victoria being an important transport interchange, so we chose a colour that is synonymous with transport in London.”

The project was granted approval in 2009 and it was the biggest consent Westminster Council had ever awarded. 

It was initially proposed as a scheme of three towers of up to 40 storeys but the council refused as it would have loomed over views of Buckingham Palace.

Building Design said Circus West in Battersea, south London, was a very popular nomination with its readership. Readers thought it “pulled off the feat of making Europe’s largest brick building look small” and described it as “disgusting” and “a great case of gross over development”. 

Shortlisted: Park Plaza London Waterloo (Building Design)

The development consists of two long, thin buildings. One is a gold-copper clad block of flats designed by dRMM, the other looks like an enormous pile of ice cubes and was built by Simpson Haugh & Partners.

It is 90,000 sqm, 17 storeys high and longer than the Shard laid on its side.

The Park Plaza London Waterloo by ESA Architecture was criticised for being “swathed in tiles whose pattern would cause havoc on a TV screen” and for having colours which managed to be “gaudy and drab”.

When it was renovated, the architects lift the cornice at one corner of the building which Building Design said “looked like the skin has been peeled from someone’s torso, exposing a spaghetti of blood vessels and veins beneath”.  

The Carbuncle Cup was introduced by Building Design in 2006 to draw attention to bad architecture in towns and cities across the UK.

Previous winners from the London area include an apartment block with a Tesco’s in Woolwich and the renovation of the Cutty Sark, both in south-east London.

In other parts of the UK, the new entrance to Preston station and student housing in Portsmouth also made this year’s shortlist.


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