London

Carbuncle Cup: UCL student block crowned worst building

  • 29 August 2013
  • From the section London
464 Caledonian Road
The building stands on the same street as HMP Pentonville

A student accommodation building in London has been named the country's worst new building.

Building Design Magazine said judges failed to see how University College London's building on Caledonian Road was "fit for human occupation".

It said the majority of rooms lack adequate daylight, offer little privacy and a significant number have no direct view out at all.

UCL said the building complied with all necessary planning regulations.

The magazine's annual Carbuncle Cup competition claims to recognise the worst architectural projects.

'Cynical gesture'

Designed by Stephen George and Partners for UCL, judges said what was once a historic red brick warehouse has now been largely demolished despite being protected.

It said: "The original frontage has been retained in a cynical gesture towards preservation.

"But its failings go deeper: this is a building that the jury struggled to see as remotely fit for human occupation."

Executive editor and Carbuncle Cup juror Ellis Woodman added: "There is no small irony in the fact that the building stands on the same street as HMP Pentonville."

The runner-up for the Carbuncle Cup, Castle Mill housing at Oxford University, is also student accommodation, while Redcar Beacon - also known as the Vertical Pier - came third.

Islington Council had refused planning permission for UCL's building, however that was overturned by the inspectorate.

Councillor Paul Convery, who chaired the council committee which turned down the planning application, said permission was refused for reasons including the poor quality of the design and the poor quality of amenity for students.

"We were very disappointed that the government inspector overturned the council's decision and granted planning permission for this building."

UCL said: "A challenging aspect of the building design was the need for us to incorporate the façade, which is listed, into an appropriate hall of residence.

"The design evolved through in-depth and extensive consultation with Islington Council's planning, conservation and urban design officers and we are happy with the outcome.

"The final design complies with all necessary planning regulations in respect of outlook, amenity and natural daylight."

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