Carbuncle Cup victor of 2017

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Nova Victoria, in London, this year’s winner of the Carbuncle Cub. (Dezeen)

This year’s Carbuncle Cup, awarded annually (three years now) to the worst new building in Britain, goes to a development called Nova Victoria, so called because it is what you see when you emerge from the Victoria Station tube stop. It is shown above. Dezeen describes it in “‘Crass’ London development wins 2017 Carbuncle Cup for worst UK building,” by Alice Morby.

Morby quotes urbanist David Rudlin, director of Urbed and chairman of the Academy of Urbanism, who said, “[T]he development was inefficient” – but Rudlin blamed the red spire on its south tower for its newly awarded “carbuncular status.” … “There’s no variety and you can’t read the floors. … It’s got the same proportions as Salisbury Cathedral. For me the spire gives it carbuncular status – otherwise it’s just a bad building.”

Another expert said the design, by PLP Architecture, attempted to channel Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind, “but had done so with little success.”

Gehry? I don’t think so. Libeskind? More likely. Until reading Morby’s story I had no idea that the red thing sticking up beyond the building at the center of the photograph was part of Nova Victoria, which it turns out is actually two buildings. Can the red thing really be described as a “spire”? Does the critic who saw Gehry and Libeskind in the design realize that she is accusing PLP Architects of copying the (recent) past?

Every time the Carbuncle Cup is awarded I ask the same thing I ask when a new Pritzker Prize winner is chosen. On the basis of what set of defined principles can a good modernist building be distinguished from a bad one? Shown a photo of this year’s Carbuncle Cup and this year’s Pritzker Prize winner, how would the average person be able to tell which is which?

I don’t know. Below is a building, the Musée Soulages in Rodez, France, by RCR Arquitectes, this year’s Pritzker winner, a firm whose three principals hail from the renegade wannabe Spanish region of Catalonia. One of my dearest wishes is to visit its capital, Barcelona, but I beg someone to tell me why the rusty building’s architect won the Pritzker and the … the … the one at the top, Nova Victoria, won the Carbuncle!

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Musee Soulages, in Rodez, France. (Pritzker)

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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3 Responses to Carbuncle Cup victor of 2017

  1. Oddities win awards. The red thing reminds me of a tube of Colgate toothpaste! And – remember when they called the building in Cranston the Rusty Bucket? What is attractive about rust? Not much.


  2. Careful, Russell, you have just committed a value judgment!!!


  3. Nothing quite like a museum that says “I’m repulsive” on the outside.


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