Cutty Sark "Wins" Bad Architecture Award

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 69 months ago
Cutty Sark "Wins" Bad Architecture Award

The newly-restored Cutty Sark, opened by the Queen in April, has won the Carbuncle Cup, the annual award that seeks to highlight the worst new piece of architecture in Britain.

Writing in Building Design, the magazine that organises the award, critic Ellis Woodman calls the remodelled glass canopy upon which the tea clipper rests "spectacularly wrongheaded" and argues that it "tragically [defiles] the very thing it sets out to save". He also likens it to another notorious botched restoration, that of the Spanish woman who ruined (or, one might argue, improved) a prized fresco.

Andrew Gilligan has previously branded the project a "a clucking, Grade A, Bernard Matthews-class turkey", while some conservation groups have argued that hoisting the vessel off the ground has weakened its structural integrity.

Was the restoration a failure, or are the critics wrong on this one? Let us know what you think.

See also:

London's best boats and ships

Last Updated 13 September 2012

Alan Haughton

Have a look at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. Now that is how you restore a ship and make it accessable to the public.


I agree the ship looks a bit awkward from outside, and the blocky lift tower is no beauty. But as the image above shows, from beneath the view is undeniably impressive. A project of mixed success, then, but probably not deserving of the Carbuncle Cup.


I actually think it looks pretty good. There are far more deserving candidates for this award.


I'm struggling to see the purpose of this and don't want to think how much it cost. It's only protecting a fraction of the ship, a bit that was designed to be in water anyway and would surely have only needed a decent paint job... Confused.


I like the design - it looks as if it's floating on the crest of a wave - very clever I thought. Surprised to see it described as a carbuncle. On a recent visit I was disappointed to see a white van parked next to it on the main vista side - ruins reflection of sky. Agree the ticket block is hideous - looks as if it's made from detritus from the fire.


Well my family thought the building looked great. Something different and a piece of history preserved for future generations. Just look at the skyline opposite the Cutty Sark to see the rich diversity of the place and this fits right in. carbunkle...not a chance!

Ed Bates

I can remember the first time I saw the ship about 20 yrs ago. Turning a corner in the road, there she was - absolutely stunning; the beautiful line of the hull clearly visible. Today all is lost with the new canopy, a poor renovation to my mind.