Portsmouth student halls make shortlist of the Carbuncle Cup – to find Britain’s worst building

Greetham Street Halls of Residence have been named in a shortlist aiming to find Britain's worst new building
Greetham Street Halls of Residence have been named in a shortlist aiming to find Britain's worst new building
Have your say

A STUDENT halls of residence dubbed an architectural ‘fag butt’ has made the shortlist of Britain’s worst new buildings.

The Greetham Street Student Halls in the city centre joins five other finalists in the annual Carbuncle Cup.

The shortlist for the competition to select the least-lovely addition to the nation’s architectural portfolio over the last year were revealed yesterday and they range from a higgledy-piggledy new entrance to Preston station to an eye-catching extension to a private home.

Organisers of the contest, run by magazine Building Design as a tongue-in-cheek counterpoint to the prestigious Stirling Prize for Britain’s best new building, said the chosen contenders suffered from ‘a range of sins’, including ‘gross overdevelopment, eye-popping cladding… and just plain, cheap and nasty’.

The shortlist includes:

* Nova Victoria, Victoria Street, London

* Preston station, Butler Street entrance

* Greetham Street Student Halls, Portsmouth

* Circus West, Battersea power station, London

* Park Plaza Hotel, Waterloo, London

* Somers Road, Malvern

Among the nominees is the revamped entrance to Preston’s Victorian railway station, which saw a 1980s structure mimicking the original design replaced with what train operator Virgin said was a ‘contrasting structure’ aimed at improving passengers’ experience.

The resulting asymmetric configuration of grey boxes struggled to find a place in Lancastrians’ hearts. The comments of residents include ‘eyesore’, ‘hideous’, ‘a joke’ and ‘planning gone mad’.

The nomination submitted by a Building Design reader described the structure as a ‘deadening cake tin slapped on [the station’s] side’. It continued: ‘This fractured geometric lean-to would seem out of date 10 years ago… We’ve come a long way from Brunel. A very long way.’

Other buildings to earn the ire rather the admiration of the public include Nova Victoria, a new ‘landmark’ office building in central London. The giant block near Victoria station is described by Building Design as ‘setting a new benchmark in urban horror’.

Such criticism is mild compared to the aesthetic drubbing handed out to Circus West, a residential development that sits alongside the Grade II-listed Battersea power station. The result, according to the magazine, is a structure that ‘literally wraps its arms around our national treasure like a drunk trying to hug your granny… or a rugby player in a tutu photobombing a funeral’.

The shortlist also includes a student halls in Portsmouth, dubbed the ‘fag butt’ by residents because of the tan and beige circular tower that sits atop of the building and a house in the Worcestershire town of Malvern, singled out for a ‘Lego brick’ extension. The nominator claimed the result was that ‘now most people assume this family home to be a medical centre’.

The winner, chosen by a panel of four judges, will be announced next week.