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!