The annual Carbuncle Cup is organized by the Building Design (BD) magazine and is awarded to the worst new building in Britain. Readers of BD are invited to nominate their most hated buildings to a jury, chaired by BD editor Thomas Lane, that then determines the short-list of six and the winner. The “oppressive” Woolwich Central development won 2014’s Carbuncle Cup.
Walkie Talkie skyscraper, which was completed in April 2014, was announced by BD as this year’s winner with the harsh title “It should never have been built.” Designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly for a cost of over £200 million, the 27-story Walkie Talkie was criticized by Lane as “an unwelcome party guest” that “crashes into London’s skyline.” He added that it was hard to find anything positive to say about the building. Juror and BD architecture critic Ike Ijeh called the tower “a gratuitous glass gargoyle graffitied onto the skyline of London,” while fellow juror and architectural designer Eleanor Jolliffe likened the Walkie Talkie to a “Bond villain tower, as it could melt your car with a solar beam from space.”
Related: Rafael Viñoly Admits to Making “A Lot of Mistakes” with London’s “Walkie Scorchie” Skyscraper
The controversial building features a glass concave form that widens as it reaches the top. It’s an unusual shape that’s drawn criticism not just for its looks, but also for causing unexpected mayhem in the streets of London. While it was still under construction, the Walkie Talkie earned the nickname Death Ray for scorching cars, setting carpets on fire, and smoldering front doors. The concave shape was found to have channeled the sun’s rays into concentrated ultra-hot light beams, similar to the way a magnifying glass works. Developers responded by outfitting the skyscraper with sunshades. Recently, however, the Walkie Talkie made news again for creating violent wind draughts at street-level.
The Walkie Talkie beat out nominations that included the Woodward Hall development in North Acton, the Whittle Building at the University of Cambridge, the Waltham Forest YMCA building, Southampton’s City Gateway project and the Parliament House tower in Lambeth.
+ Carbuncle Cup
Images via 20 Fenchurch Street, Wikimedia