Citywire for Financial Professionals
Stay connected:

View the article online at

What is Britain’s ugliest building?

A tower of ‘breakfast-extracting ugliness’ yesterday won an annual award for Britain’s ugliest new building.


A tower of ‘breakfast-extracting ugliness’ yesterday won an annual award for Britain’s ugliest new building.

The Strata Tower in London’s Elephant & Castle, pictured above, won the ‘Carbuncle Cup’, an annual award held by Building Design magazine.

It was on a shortlist with:

  • Bézier Apartments near Old Street, London
  • St Anne’s Square development by WDR & RT Taggart in Belfast
  • Newcastle’s Haymarket Hub
  • Birmingham’s The Cube
  • The Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock

But going back beyond those built in the past 12 months, what is Britain’s ugliest and most hated building? The infamous 2005 Channel 4 series Demolition asked the public to nominate which buildings they most want consigned to history, with the following ‘dirty dozen’ making the final cut (some of which have since been demolished):

  • Westgate House, Newcastle
  • Number 1 Westminster Bridge, Central London
  • Lodges supermarket, Holmfirth, Yorkshire
  • The Tower, Colliers Wood, South West London
  • The Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh
  • Gateshead Multistorey Car Park, Newcastle
  • The Cement Works, Rugby
  • Park Hill, Sheffield
  • Crown House, Kidderminster
  • The Bus Station, Northampton
  • The Imax Cinema, Bournemouth
  • Cumbernauld Town Shopping Centre, Scotland

I would nominate the Tower Hotel (formerly the Thistle hotel) next to Tower Bridge, London. This is ugly on a titanic scale - a contagious grimness which infects the buildings around it. That is surely the mark of truly bad architecture.

Readers, please cast your votes for Britain’s ugliest building.

40 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Geoff Harrop

Aug 13, 2010 at 09:37

A bitten-off phallus with teeth marks?

report this

Richard N

Aug 13, 2010 at 09:37

How ridiculous, I go past that tower every day and in my opinion its stunning. You only have to look around it to see far more abominable creations.

report this

James Moore

Aug 13, 2010 at 09:38

The London Hilton Metropole is hideously ugly. There are no photos of the outside of the building on their website, for many excellent reasons

report this

JOn Beddell

Aug 13, 2010 at 09:40

Penlowarth, Penzance. A concrete monstrosity nestled in the heart of Penzance's most beautiful Victorian / Gerogian area. Build in the 1970s by modernists as a tax office, even HMRC have now turned their noses up and left. It really is a dump.

report this

Deborah Hyde (Citywire)

Aug 13, 2010 at 09:45

The most irritating thing about the Strata Tower is that it is part of the plans to redevelop Elephant & Castle.

Before the crisis developers were falling over themselves to update this prime piece of real estate and thousands of families have been ousted from the notorious Heygate estate to make way for the more upwardly mobile.

In their desperation to move on the planners allowed this monstrosity to be built, thus securing the area's 'ugly' reputation for decades to come.

and of the oldies, the Barbican estate will always win my vote for most ugly and disorientating development ever.


report this

Ian Grumpy

Aug 13, 2010 at 09:50

The Wessex Mercure Hotel in Winchester - the city centre is a collection of gothic and georgian gems which is polluted by the concrete and redbrick brutality of the hotel right next to the cathedral. More than 40 years after opening it still jars. The only good thing that can be said for it is that it conceals the arse-end loading bay of Debenhams which is worse.

report this

gwilym rhys-jones

Aug 13, 2010 at 09:50

Whichever the wife's mother is standing outside.

report this

brian redpath

Aug 13, 2010 at 09:56

Interesting to note the hates of some are the sought after dreams of others - The Barbican ....really - why is it so popular to live in then. The tower at the Elephant and Castle seems to be selling super-expensive apartments, and has some sort of Green credentials, its certainly a better more enlightening uplifting landmark indicating Urban regeneration than the concept of painting the already unattractive shopping centre accessed by pissed in subways through disorientating underpasses pink!

report this

brian redpath

Aug 13, 2010 at 09:56

Perceptions often differ in life!

report this

Ed Hockley

Aug 13, 2010 at 10:05

The St. George's Hotel on Langham Place / Upper Regent Street: hideous stained, prefab concrete with reflective window film (has that ever been a good look?) And to think this is within spitting distance of the Nash-desgined All Souls Church, the Langham Hotel and the art deco magnificence that is BBC headquarters...ouch. What were they thinking?

report this

Frank Talbot (Citywire Research)

Aug 13, 2010 at 10:23

I have to completely disagree with that award. Have you been to elephant and castle? It is by far the impressive structure there. Nay, the most impressive new structure in South London. The wind turbines are just cool. More like that please.

I agree with my esteemed colleague Deborah Hyde, the Barbican gets my vote every time. It's a scar on the City.

report this

Anonymous Coward

Aug 13, 2010 at 10:26

Why Centre Point in London is not on any of the lists here is beyond me - it is one of the most hideous buildings there is, from the dark and dirty bus station at the bottom to the towering ugly emanating from every horrible floor.

report this

Victoria Barbary

Aug 13, 2010 at 11:03

Totally agree with you on the Tower Hotel - I used to live in St Kat's dock, and it's a complete monstrosity.

The Broad Street Mall in Reading is horrific, oh and the Westgate Centre Car Park in Oxford... now that really is a "what were they thinking" moment.

report this

Christopher Leach

Aug 13, 2010 at 11:08

Ugly or not I welcome it when architect's take risks as more and more of the characterless neo-traditional redbrick unfolds across Britain.

report this

Calm down and think it through

Aug 13, 2010 at 11:24

A building should not be viewed in isolation it should be viewed as part of its surroundings. In an area full of classic architecture a non-matching piece of modernism not only looks ugly, it ruins the appearance of its surroundings. Even if the existing architecture does not adhere to one theme, the architect should choose the most predominant and attractive style and match the new building to that.

The problem is one of ego and attention seeking. Some architects see every commission as an opportunity to draw attention to themselves. They would rather be famous for designing something controversial than quietly respected for designing something that suits its surroundings and pleases the majority of people.

report this


Aug 13, 2010 at 11:32

Yes, The tower hotel is a disgusting building. No architectural merit at all, brown and dirty.

report this

clive norbury

Aug 13, 2010 at 11:36

I don't know about the ugly but the good and the bad are the Grey bunker and Blue pyramid buildings (ex Equitable Life) in Aylesbury

report this


Aug 13, 2010 at 11:42

I nominate the tower block of flats on the left hand side just before arriving by train at Paddington station.

It is so ugly and utilitarian that it must be horrible to have to live in such a soulless monstrosity.

report this


Aug 13, 2010 at 12:20


1 The Tower Hotel, a horrible brown bunker that should never have been built next to our best historic monuments

2 Guys Hospital Southwark (now right next to the Shard) a disgusting building that looks like a concrete dog !

3 CentrePoint not only a foul and 'in your face' monstrosity but as with many modern buildings devoid of a solution as to how to integrate tastefully at ground level


report this


Aug 13, 2010 at 12:51

These 'worst' lists always amuse me. Relatively bereft of things London. Now if it had been a 'best' list it would have been choc full. Why is that?

report this


Aug 13, 2010 at 13:11

The Scottish Parliament building is a bit of en eyesore. A very expensive eyesore to boot!

report this


Aug 13, 2010 at 13:33

calm down and think it through has the right idea i think in the second part of his entry. these monstrisities are , to my mind, ego boosts for the designers? and very easily conned counncilors who agreed to there construction in the first place. not to mention it was " our" money that paid for them.

report this

colin overton

Aug 13, 2010 at 13:45

Buckingham Palace? The ugliest palace in the world?

report this

Alasdair Lawrance

Aug 13, 2010 at 13:56

Out here in the sticks we have a car park/ council office block right next to Warwick cathedral that should be bombed. The very similar Public Library and Paradise Forum in B'ham (brutalist concrete) either need removing or properly cleaned up, in which case it might have some retro value.

report this

Michael Hellman

Aug 13, 2010 at 14:19

Yes its got to be the Strata Tower, it really is an eyesore and set to remain so, but thats what putting wind turbines into a building does. It destroys a great skyline with its seemingly finished but looking unfunished top.

But how can anyone ctiticise the Barbican, that is a true statement of 1970's architectural modernity......and im not being sarcastic!

report this

Bob C urry

Aug 13, 2010 at 14:48

The newest eyesore- the 'watch tower' as part of the redevelopment of the RSC at Stratford-on-Avon. It would be more appropriate in an Arndale centre, and looks hideous viewed from Clopton Bridge, the main bridge crossing the Avon.

report this


Aug 13, 2010 at 15:16

The Scottish Parliament Building has got ot be the biggest eyesore ever. It totally lacks form or beauty. In short, it's a total mess.A few locals refer to it's beautiful design. I have yet to identify any design in the shambles that it the home of the Scottish Parliament. It does, however, reflect the quality of the so called 'Politicians' inside. They deserve one another!

report this


Aug 13, 2010 at 15:58

You beat me to it, nominating the Tower Hotel - I loathe that building.

Many "ugly" buildings would be better if they were just cleaned up, but this hotel simply needs bull-dozing

report this

Brian Meek

Aug 13, 2010 at 16:17

I look out from my office on an ex-Post Office concrete "International Style" sorting office on the corner of High Holborn and Drury Lane. Not only is it plug-ugly it has been unoccupied for decades. It does even warrant a name.

report this

IFA Watcher

Aug 13, 2010 at 17:11

What a hoot, the capital building situated in one of the most beautiful cities in the UK Edinburgh rates higher on the ugliness scale than a multistory car park and a cement works. To quote our friend earlier, "What were they thinking of?"

The Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh

Gateshead Multistorey Car Park, Newcastle

The Cement Works, Rugby

report this

Jeremy Bosk

Aug 13, 2010 at 22:40

Manchester Oxford Road station is a listed building because it was built of twisted wood in the 1950s. It is a fire hazard. In the event of an emergency evacuation people would be trampled to death in the shared ingress and exit routes which are too narrow, twisted and blocked by benches, ticket barriers and other rubbish. Wheelchair access - what is that?

Manchester Victoria is an un-navigable nightmare with poor signage, wheelchair hostile stairs everywhere trapped inside an attractive frontage.

Manchester Piccadilly is another internal nightmare with no external redeeming features. Nor is it fit for purpose because of the track layout.

report this

Jeremy Bosk

Aug 15, 2010 at 23:43

Manchester's Victoria Station is to be renovated despite the coalition's sabotage:

report this

C Phillips

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:00

The Celtic Manor Resort and Hotel (and spa, no doubt) Nr Newport is a real horror. If the planners had realised the additional hazard caused by drivers on the M4 having to close their eyes as they drive past they would have thought again.

report this

Rajah Brookes

Aug 16, 2010 at 10:25

All of Plymouth City Centre.

The idea is right. Fully pedestrianised with lots of broad avenues and public space. But the 50s built concrete prefab buildings themselves are all rotting away. To be fair it was thrown up in a hurry after the blitz flattened everything. It could do with another one!

report this


Aug 16, 2010 at 12:32

The glass box being tacked onto the Holborne Museum in Bath promises to compete with the grim buildings erected post war by the City 'Architect '( Chief Vandal) who surpassed Hitler in the quantity of Georgian houses demolished. On the bright side, these tacky constructions are relatively easy to pull down, the 1970's Southgate St. developement lasted only 35 yrs.

report this

douglas barber

Aug 16, 2010 at 16:26

there are plenty of ugly buildings but to only someone with no taste would criticise Centre Point which in my view is one of the finest buildings in England

report this

Roger May

Aug 16, 2010 at 17:50

St Elisabeth's Church, Victoria Drive, Eastbourne - a 1930s red brick monstrosity built on a hill. It looks like a failed design for a power station.

report this

Ken Johnston

Aug 16, 2010 at 21:30

Agree with Stanrobbo on the Scottish Parliament Building. Given all kinds of architectural awards,but in my opinion it will be like the Sir basil Spence designed high flats in Govan, Glasgow. Where are they now, dust!

Give it 40 years and it will be 400mil. down the drain.

report this

Anonymous Coward

Aug 17, 2010 at 12:37

@douglas re: "but to only someone with no taste would criticise Centre Point "

The only thing more offensive than that comment is the monstrosity and pock mark on the otherwise nice skyline of the West End that is Centre Point.

report this

No name

Aug 17, 2010 at 14:21

Portcullis House opposite Big Ben with its gas oven 'chimneys'. And it was fabulously expensive - built to last. And the back end of the new Charing Cross.

report this

leave a comment

Please sign in here or register here to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

News sponsored by:

The Citywire Guide to Investment Trusts

In this guide to investment trusts, produced in association with Aberdeen Asset Management, we spoke to many of the leading experts in the field to find out more.

Watch Now

Today's articles

Tools from Citywire Money

From the Forums

+ Start a new discussion

Weekly email from The Lolly

Get simple, easy ways to make more from your money. Just enter your email address below

An error occured while subscribing your email. Please try again later.

Thank you for registering for your weekly newsletter from The Lolly.

Keep an eye out for us in your inbox, and please add to your safe senders list so we don't get junked.


The Accumulator: FTSE see-saws on trade war fears

by Michelle McGagh on Jun 22, 2018 at 14:57

Sorry, this link is not
quite ready yet