August 5, 2009

Nominees for Britain's Worst New Building Announced

Merseyside terminal by Hamilton Architects at Liverpool Pier Head

It's been far too long since I have posted, but I know I do not write on a topic that moves at breakneck speeds, so I think my tardiness somewhat acceptable. Nevertheless, I shall try in the coming weeks to post more often, and next week there will be an exciting announcement.

This week however, BD Online, the British architecture journal, has announced the nominees for the 2009 Carbuncle Cup, the "prize" for the worst new building in the UK. Taking a cue from HRH Prince Charles' infamous "Carbuncle" speech in 1984, the competition is a popular one, given the number of truly awful new buildings in the UK.

The poorly detailed Poundbury Fire House

The list is filled with inappropriate, unsympathetic and simply ugly buildings. I take slight objection to the inclusion of the Poundbury Fire House, not because its beautiful, its quite bad, but because it is a straw man of the worst sort. Criticism of the station has become a proxy war launched upon classicists, despite not being designed by a classical architect. The poorly detailed faux classicism this building explains in stone how ignorance of good detail and composition, common among the great mass of architects untrained in classicism, can lead to a very poor building indeed.

Classicism has rules that if broken result in a very bad building to the eye. Had these rules been been followed here, I sincerely doubt the vultures of modernism would have found much to criticize. Modernism on the other hand, without rules, creates little of real beauty, and we see how the Carbuncle Cup remains dominated by this style.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems that even the worst of (faux?) classical-style buildings is more than comparable to the best of modern buildings. I'm sure most people with a firehouse in their neighborhood built post WWII would be quite happy with the Poundbury Firehouse. I know I would.


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