North London's Ugliest Buildings

M@
By M@
North London's Ugliest Buildings

Following on from our article on central London's nastiest buildings, here are a selection from the upper boroughs of the capital. It's grim up north.

Barnet House

The ancient villages of Totteridge and Whetstone sound lovely. They are, in places. But the whole area is dominated by this layercake of concrete on the High Road. It's built in that aren't-we-clever style which sandwiches delicate layers of glass between slabs of concrete. The visitor feels that he or she will be crushed; not an unreasonable sentiment, given that these are council offices.

Now, there are no shortage of similar buildings across town. What makes this one so bad is its prominence, high on the ridge that gave Totteridge its name. The view along the Dollis Brook valley is like the approach to the Emerald City, as reimagined by JG Ballard.

Ugly Brown Building

A lingering vestige of industry can still be found on the eastern fringes of Camden Town. Here, a jumble of indifferent commercial premises edge up to the Regent's Canal. The daddy of them all is this sprawling cowpat of a building on St Pancras Way. What mundane business goes on within its creme-de-la-merde walls? Contrary to expectations, it is luxury clothing. This is the headquarters of Ted Baker, one of Britain's leading high street retailers. Clearly the company has a sense of humour, for its stomach-churning mothership is officially known as the Ugly Brown Building.

The twin cackbastards of Hendon

We don't know the official name of this dubious duo. We don't care to know. To us, they have always been — and always will be — the Twin Cackbastards of Hendon.

The ugly sisters aren't quite identical. The left tower sticks two masts up at the observer, while the one on the right raises only its middle antennae.

We're told that the complex is a major telephone exchange. This is worrying. If you ever call someone in Colindale or Brent Cross, be sure to put it on speakerphone, or risk an ear infection.

These wretched  buildings stand within an area called the Hyde, which can be left to write its own punchline.

Royal Free Hospital

The view from Parliament Hill is rightly famous for its panoramic sweep of central London. But don't let your eyes stray too far to the west or you'll want to project stomach acids all over this mighty excrescence on Hampstead Hill.

London's ugliest hospital resembles a multistorey car park that's had all the joy knocked out of it. Don't get us wrong — the hospital does incredible work as we can attest from first-hand experience. It just happens to be imprisoned in one of the true nadirs of 1970s architecture.

Archway Tower

Before... Image by JustinC, CC.

This list could not be complete without the Archway Tower, a 59-metre growth above Archway station. Like someone with a guilty secret, Archway Tower has recently changed its name, appearance and job. Now known as Vantage Point, the tower has morphed from office space to residential, and had a face-lift to boot. It still looks shit, at least according to the one person we asked for an opinion.

...After. Image by Markflint89, CC.

Nominate your own north-London vomitechture in the comments below. And we're looking for nominations to the east, west and south, too.

Last Updated 09 October 2017

Gregory Farquar

Royal Free survives. The rest just raised to the ground.

Tom Emmerson

Archway Tower looks a lot less sinister. Do you think it's fair to show an old photo and to say it still looks shit -- based on ONE PERSON's view. If I wrote that the Londonist is shit, would you print that? (By the way, I enjoy the Londonist.) But as a 20-year resident of Archway, the Tower is now tolerable looking -- and that's a big improvement.

Martin Thompson

Whenever anyone asks me the way to the Royal Free Hospital (I live in the area), I always reply "it's that ugly concrete building over there"!

Rich

Northwick Park Hospital