Woolwich Tesco, 15 June 2014

The judges called it “inept, arrogant and oppressive,” the Guardian reports. A familiar-sounding description – wonder if this story will feature in next week’s Greenwich Time? Somehow the council never made space for its nomination in its weekly newspaper.

A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: “Look! Tall ships!”

17 replies on “Woolwich Tesco wins ugly architecture’s Carbuncle Cup”

  1. It is a shame that some people just don’t have a vision for the future of architecture… I seem to remember a lot of controversy over the look of the Sainsburys Eco building at North Greenwich.. Now look how folk are trying to save it!… The Dome/O2 arena etc. I can imagine the mind set of all Judges involved in this fantastically time wasted competition.

    Probably the same as the busy bodies integrating within the so called society’s locally!

    Keeps you all busy I guess and out of trouble I guess… And of course making readers of these blogs smirk at the time it must take to post such humour!

  2. The judges include a past President of RIBA. Hardly Prince Charles levels of reactionary.

    But frankly just look at it. Really. It looks like a load of giant mobile phones stacked in a random order. Its not ahead of its time. Its a lazy, old-fashioned interpretation of ‘high-tech’ architecture.

  3. What can’t be conveyed via mere photos is the sheer hulking SIZE of this abomination. I suggest standing on the corner of Anglesea Road and taking a look at it to get some idea of how obscenely huge this monstrosity is.
    Nevermind though, what’s really important is that Tesco have managed to invade more virgin territory, the Council has got a new building out of it (doesn’t count as a bribe that way apparently) and lots of locals have been recruited for jobs by a prime objector to the Living Wage scheme. Got to love a happy ending.

    P.S. It is my understanding that the plot of ground that used to be the Post Office in front of Tescos will be sold off sometime in the future. What’s the odds that another eyesore crops up that houses flats and / or offices? I’d put money on it (at one of the 115 bookies in Woolwich).

    P.P.S. Just how much of an effect did the arrival of Tesco have on the decision by M&S to close the Woolwich store and indeed the likely closure of Sainsburys?

  4. This is becoming a bit of a pattern for the Royal Borough isn’t it?

    The botched Cutty Sark “renovation” received the same award in 2012 (http://www.bdonline.co.uk/carbuncle-cup-winner-2012-ship-in-a-throttle/5042493.article)

    2 Carbuncle Cups in 3 years just illustrates how inept the council’s planning department are. There’s clearly no overall plan, vision or even basic quality control on the applications that are let through.

    All that seems to matter is development at all costs and how much can be extracted in S106 payments (although we didn’t even get those with the Cutty Sark…)

  5. Agree with Thomas Moore’s comments. I personally think, we are in a better position to have a real selection of interesting modern architecture within the borough that gets people talking and students studying it. A lot of people will come to Greenwich in a few weeks for Open House weekend to explore old and new. The media coverage might lead a few towards Woolwich to form their own opinion.The Yacht Club is a great example of than something a bit more than an building for the sake of it. I don’t think many suburban boroughs can demonstrate the same sort credentials or even willingness to be a bit bolder in new developments and architecture.

    Also, I can’t help wondering if these Carbuncle judges may even have a bit of a grudge against Greenwich council? The Cutty Sark couldn’t be described as ‘the ugliest’ even if not to personal tastes. The hoardes of tourist appear to enjoy it (like the Dome and Peninsula area). Given there’s a lot of building in Greenwich with continuous tenders for new architecture designs at different scales (schools as well as the several big flagship developments), its not inconceivable that the judge’s architect firms may have lost in competitive tenders? A case of sour grapes perhaps?

  6. And those s106 payments don’t seem to be spent on improving many public areas and streets. It’s evident in places like Southwark borough. If one goes on the Southwark’s website they list current public realm and street improvement projects, and where the money comes from. Much of is shown as s106 and it lists what development contributed to what. Nothing on Greenwich’s site. Probably because few if any s106 funded improvements?

    Thomas Moore – this is nothing to do with a dislike for modern architecture. Building Design magazine are at the forefront of modern architecture. This is a voting panel of doddery old reactionists. This is bad pure and simple. Those other buildings you listed are great and were widely praised at construction by many. There’s a ton of fantastic contemporary architecture but this isn’t it.

  7. @fromthemurkydepths – Yep, no transparency at all from Greenwich council. The S106 payments they do receive just seem to disappear. Take New Capital Quay for example, they extracted millions there for infrastructure, services and public real improvement with nothing really to show for it. They haven’t even bothered replacing the crash damaged railings near the creek road entrance

    @Shivanee – with regard to the Cutty Sark, whilst i do agree there were uglier buildings on the 2012 list, it was a world class heritage treasure to be sympathetically renovated and preserved for the nation. What they’ve actually done is jeopardise the very fabric of the ship by sticking massive great steel girders through it (a move condemned by the lead engineer at the time).

    What was the rationale for this? simply so they could lift it off the dry dock and accommodate a corporate banqueting hall underneath. They’ve also hidden most of the structure and lines of the switch behind cheap, nasty glass panels and a souvenir shop – and don’t get me started on the sorry excuse for a public square/riverside garden.

  8. Bet the 31-storey tower at Kidbrooke Station and its flock of 13 and 15-storey. chicks will be absolute beauts. How long before people pine for the Ferrier?

  9. I don’t know the ins and outs of the Cutty Sark restoration though I do know it was previously burnt down! So I guess an objective would have been to prevent this happening again. The restoration cost a lot of money so it doesn’t surprise that a corporate facility is integrated. Yep, shame Nandos is opposite but Cutty Sark is a big hit with small children (my memorable first trip to Greenwich) and that’s amenable for families (at least no MacD’s, KFC, Pizza Hut). Though I do agree the public square needs improvement (the state of the foot tunnel is an own goal) and yes, where are the S106 payments going? After all, there’s a lot of it coming in……….

  10. Shivanee – the Cutty Sark fire was actually caused by a vacuum cleaner (of all things) left on by workers during the renovation: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3108105/Cutty-Sark-fire-caused-by-fire-in-vacuum-cleaner-left-on-ship-by-workers.html

    It’s one of many careless, thoughtless things done during that renovation.

    With regard to it being a big hit with tourists/small children – it always has been. The only difference now is that they have to pay to see most of it

  11. @geomacdonald they’ve already cut it from 31 to 25 stories, if people keep complaining hopefully it will come down further.

  12. Many thanks Esskay for clarifying. Though I’m confused, I thought that it was restored due to an arson job back in the late nineties? Anyhow, yes times have changed and I do feel lucky that I also got to see St. Paul’s Cathedral when that was free. Though I think both are still worth the ticket price.

  13. Thanks Annie. I’m hopelessly ignorant of planning procedures. My recollection (hazy) of the original plan is that it didn’t include really high towers at all. How, after sign-off, did these get approval ?

  14. Thanks Annie. I’m hopelessly ignorant of planning procedures. My recollection (hazy) of the original plan is that it didn’t include really high towers at all. How, after sign-off, did these get approval ?

  15. @geomacdonald the original plan was for a hotel at the station. This fell through although not sure if because of lack of hotel interest or planning permission reasons. Then Berkeley announced that instead of a hotel there would be a 31 story tower. There were several community sessions to discuss this – I attended one and MP Clive made an appearance. Everyone was saying the tower was unsightly and untenable. As of August when they had their most recent community sessions they had boards explaining that due to public response the tower was now down to 25.

    Essentially I think they ran the numbers and realized that to make up the money they were expecting from a hotel they’d have to build more flats and houses to fill the gap.

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