The UK's leading architecture publication has an annual award for the worst designed building
Building Design, one of UK's leading architecture and construction trade journals, calls attention to the nation's worst new buildings, in its annual "Carbuncle Cup," based on nominations from readers. From the article:
Sadly mediocre architecture is rife in our towns and cities with too many new buildings blighting rather than improving the built environment. These buildings suffer from a number of failings including blank, faceless facades, cheap shouty cladding, bad proportions and ill-conceived design “features”. Frequently examples of gross overdevelopment, rather than mitigating their impact, too many of these buildings stick two fingers up to their context.Can't see an equivalent "award" being handed out annually by Architectural Record, Metropolis, or other similar US publications.
Of the list of the six worst buildings for 2015, London's Walkie Talkie building, designed by Rafael Viñoly, got the nod ("It should never have been built," BD; "Carbuncle Cup: Walkie Talkie wins prize for worst building of the year," Guardian).
A few months ago I wrote about an element of the building that I found interesting ("Public access to building tops in the vertical city: cinemas, parks, and plazas"), an upper story garden and viewing area (with restaurants, one with stratospheric prices) ostensibly open to the public. even if in practice the garden is not well executed and the quality of public access and the experience is stunted.
Sky Garden at the top of the "Walkie Talkie" building, London. Photo by Alex Lentati, for the London Evening Standard.
From a post-modern architecture perspective, the design of the Walkie Talkie building is reasonable and playful, even if elements of the design ended up concentrating the sun in ways that melted car parts and blistered the paint off nearby storefronts. Awnings had to be added to de-concentrate the sun rays that would otherwise bounce off the building.
The problem is that the building is the definition of the term "context insensitive."
It was built in an area not otherwise zoned for skyscrapers. In a triumph of capitalism, the reason the building gets wider as it rises is because rents/s.f. increase significantly on the higher floors.
Therefore, it will always stick out, more as sculpture than as a building, and it will always tower over its much much shorter neighboring buildings.
Peter Rees, the former chief planner of "The City," London's square mile financial district, justifies the building as acting as "the prow" of "The City" conceptualized as a ship.
But in practice from the perspective of being on the street rather than from an aerial view, it's not possible to grasp the complete landscape of "The City" in a single glance and therefore, the building doesn't function as an element in a perfectly formed cultural landscape that fully executes and illustrates the idea of "The City" as a ship.
Effective viewing distances for pedestrians. From "Close encounters with buildings" by Jan Gehl, Lotte Johansen Kaefer and Solvejg Reigstad. Urban Design International 11: 29-47;