Once a year, the architectural world in the United Kingdom takes note of a special award.
This award is called the Carbuncle Cup, awarded annually by Building Design magazine after compiling nominations from the public. The cup has become one of Europe's most controversial architecture prizes.
Why? Its focus is to name and shame the architects behind 'bad' buildings rather than awarding "good" ones.
That’s right. An award is presented to the building or development that made us want to claw our eyes out the most this year.
And in 2016, the Carbuncle Cup was awarded to Lincoln Plaza, a residential building located at London's Docklands near Canary Wharf.
The plaza boasts “breathtaking views, first class facilities and superlative living accommodation in a location of international status, set to provide one of the most prestigious and sophisticated new landmarks on Canary Wharf’s iconic skyline.”
Each apartment’s design was made to balance luxury and style, featuring comfort cooling, individually selected stone tiled flooring, SMEG kitchen appliances and Hansgrohe bathroom refinements. The building itself also provides a 24-hour concierge, business lounge, private cinema, a four storey winter garden and a health club complete with spa, pool and gymnasium.
Despite the glowing descriptions about Lincoln Plaza on its websites, no one could pull themselves away from its external appearance. Carbuncle jurists described it as "the worst building amongst a swathe of mediocrity" and "the type of project that gives high-rise housing a bad name."Some of the preferred descriptors of the building’s architecture include "contextual incongruity, myopic cladding, woeful detailing, mind-numbing mediocrity, clumsy massing, incoherent form and, of course, poor planning are just some of the woes on gruesome display."Even though the evidence speaks for itself for many, the developers of Lincoln Plaza, Galliard Homes, stick by it. They defended the building to London media saying it “sold out to buyers, so clearly the project is liked by the purchasers".
They added, "Architectural design is art, and like all art, a matter of personal tastes.
“Each project the company delivers is bespoke and distinctive and the company has built a strong reputation for rapidly selling out."
However, no matter how hard Gillard Homes sticks by their plaza, there was no swaying the opinion of others.
Building Designs magazine contributor and critic Ike Ijeh, who was also one of the competition judges, offered his feedback in a BD editorial where he called the building a "putrid pugilistic horror show that should never have been built".
"In its bilious cladding, chaotic form, adhesive balconies and frenzied facades, it exhibits the absolute worst in shambolic architectural design and cheap visual gimmickry," he said.
"Essentially, this building is the architectural embodiment of sea sickness, waves of nausea frozen in sheaths of glass and coloured aluminium that, when stared at for too long, summon queasiness, discomfort and if you’re really unlucky, a reappearance of lunch as inevitably as puddles after a rainstorm."
Despite the jury’s ‘flowing’ reviews, Ijeh believes that a lot of the blame can be attributed to planning regulations, and the outcome of Lincoln’s architecture could have very well been the result of forced creativity to get around planning schemes and convince the local authority to award permission for development.
Lincoln Plaza was part of a shortlist of five other buildings deemed worthy of the crown for the worst UK buildings.
Images courtesy Gillard Homes.