In 1982 Prince Charles described a proposed addition to the National Gallery in London as a "monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend." The quote is immortalized with the Carbuncle Cup, given to the ugliest building in Britain. This year the winner is a particularly hard choice: the "restoration" of the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. Usually the winner is some ugly commercial building (see the giant Philishave from two years ago)
I previously wrote about this project, noting:
I visited the Cutty Sark with my kids a decade ago, it looked like a ship. Now it looks like a ride at the West Edmonton Mall....I am a big fan of preservation and of adaptive reuse, but the idea of turning a ship into a fifty million pound roof of a party venue is not appropriate design.
The judges of the carbuncle cup usually have a lot of fun with the prize, being really sarcastic and snide; this year they don't. So much work went into this project, to such a poor end.
The spectacularly wrongheaded “restoration” of the Cutty Sark is a project that the charitable trust that owns the ship — the greatest and last remaining 19th century tea clipper — has pursued doggedly for the past eight years. It appointed an architect with an international reputation, and has defended its vision. It has overcome funding crises and even the loss of part of the ship’s fabric in a fire during the course of conservation work. It has worked with the best of intentions and yet has tragically succeeded in defiling the very thing it set out to save.
Architects have fibbed with renderings forever, showing glass as transparent or reflecting the sky. It isn't; it has its own solidity. You don't see the boat, you see the glass bunion pad it is sitting in. It's not fun this year, it's just sad.
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