Architectural trade journal Building Design has named the Cutty Sark to be the worst new building in the UK. The Scottish clipper ship is the 2012 “winner” of the Carbuncle Cup, the wooden spoon for the dregs of British architecture.
Building Design’s jury unanimously chose the Cutty Sark for the award and describes the historical tea clipper as a “disastrously conceived” scheme, “misdirected… from the start,” whose “myriad failings…tragically defile the very thing it sets out to save.”
Telegraph’s London Editor, Andrew Gilligan, writes about his disappointment in the building:
The architects, Grimshaw, have added a new glass greenhouse around the Cutty Sark, totally ruins her thrilling lines, obscures much of her exquisite gilding and cynically forces anyone who actually wants to see her to pay their £12 and go inside. The sight of people pressing their faces forlornly against the smoked glass to try to see something of the ship is one of the sadder in London.
Grimshaw have also punched a shopping centre-style glass lift up through the middle of the ship – and put two more lifts in a new square building, the size of a small block of flats, next to and towering over the ship herself. They’ve plonked a glass pod on the open main deck for a staircase (the old housing was wood, but that’s so nineteenth-century). They’ve installed lights on the masts which make it look like a Christmas tree. Above all, of course, they’ve hoicked the ship up on girders, dangling above the dry dock to create an “unparalleled corporate entertaining space” underneath – an act of vandalism that prompted the resignation of the chief engineer, who said it would place the vessel under unacceptable strain and end in its destruction.
Renovations to the Cutty Stark cost British tax payers £50 million.