As the Walkie Talkie is awarded the Carbuncle Cup, is it really the UK’s worst new building?

Is the Walkie Talkie really the UK’s worst new building?

James Hughes, conservation adviser at The Victorian Society, says Yes

The Walkie Talkie’s “victory” in this year’s Carbuncle Cup is a vindication of our director’s argument in City A.M. in January that it is London’s ugliest building.


It was the most nominated entry and its crowning demonstrates that it’s not just conservationists who feel that the building has harmed London’s skyline.

It looms and bulges into many historic views – most notably those of Tower Bridge. This impact was meant to have been softened by the provision of a public rooftop garden.

However, the garden differs significantly from the approved plans and the public are only admitted under heavy restrictions.

Moreover, it has harnessed the elements to Londoners’ detriment.


Infamously, the building is reported to have melted car parts prior to its modification, and to have caused gusts of wind sufficient to knock people over.

Let us hope that the city will learn from this win and commission buildings that better respect their context.

David Buik, market commentator at Panmure Gordon, says No

The Carbuncle Cup derives its name from disparaging comments Prince Charles made about British architecture 20 years ago.

Those comments followed the opening of the Barbican Centre in the 60s and the Lloyd’s building in the 70s – both considered innovative as well as ugly blots on the City of London’s landscape.

If I were the architects or owners of the Walkie Talkie, however, I would dump the Carbuncle Cup in the Thames, where it probably belongs.

Frankly, this accolade is an insult.

Yes, this “bully” of a building has been shrouded in controversy virtually since the first foundation stone was laid.

Its glass walls and fittings have melted cars. The winds generated as a result of the building’s height have knocked pedestrians off their feet.

But just ask Peter Rees, the former City planner. He will tell you that the Walkie Talkie will soon fit very snugly and imperiously into the London skyline, just as The Shard has.

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