Britain’s Ugliest Building Named And It’s In London…Again!

Nova Victoria Photographer: Thomas Lane

It’s a prize no architect wants. The annual Carbuncle Cup, awarded to Britain’s worst new building has been announced as Nova Victoria in central London.

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 development comprises two 18-storey office buildings and a residential block and overlooks nearby Buckingham Palace, making up part of Land Securities’ wider redevelopment masterplan for the Victoria area.

The Nova Victoria in south west London is officially the ugliest building in the UK. Source: Thomas Lane

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 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.

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.

Building Design editor Thomas Lane, one of the judges, said: “The architect appears to have been inspired by the fractured, angular shapes beloved of star-architects like Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind and applied these to a run-of-the-mill spec office development.”

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.”

“It is unfortunate although not entirely surprising that a London building has won the Carbuncle Cup for the sixth year running,” said BD.

“The capital is in the middle of a massive construction boom so there is a bigger pool of potential contenders.”

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

Past recipients of the Carbuncle Cup have included Rafael Viñoly’s Walkie Talkie skyscraper in London, a student housing scheme that was deemed “prison-like” by the 2013 jury, and a tower block that was described as “an open invitation to commit suicide”.

DMZ notes that the architect pitched this building as a “game-changing mixed use scheme, delivering world class offices, contemporary apartments and some of London’s most exciting eateries.”

It is indeed ‘game-changing’ in one sense, this over-scaled and overdeveloped eyesore terrorises its historic surroundings, is somewhat at odds with its local character. Not exactly the kind of press the newly regenerated Victoria was hoping for.