The much derided Walkie Talkie skyscraper has received the highest dishonour that may be bestowed upon a building: the Carbuncle Cup. Each year, a panel of architectural critics takes nominations for the country's most woeful new structures. The panel presumably had no difficulty in selecting this year's winner, given the chequered history of the building and its lack of public appreciation.
The Walkie Talkie, properly known as 20 Fenchurch Street, has hit the headlines on several occasions. Its concave facade had to be screened after it started focusing the suns rays and melting cars. The hotly anticipated Sky Garden on its top floors drew criticism from the City of London, who reckon it was not built to the approved plans; it may have to be remodelled.
But it is the building's bulbous form that has prompted most grumbles. It is chunkier at the top than the bottom, and therefore challenges many people's notions on what a good tower should look like. The streets below are often windswept. It is also offset from the main cluster of City skyscrapers, ensuring that it obtrudes on the Square Mile skyline with bonus garishness. Thomas Lane, who runs the awards, said the building "crashes into London's skyline like an unwelcome party guest."
Many will agree that the Walkie Talkie is a worthy winner of this year's Carbuncle Cup. It beat off such harrowing rivals as these student halls in North Acton, this 'baleful' block of flats in Black Prince Road, and this retchsome YMCA in Walthamstow, as well as structures elsewhere in the country.
Still, we think the building's owners should have left the heat-ray effect as a tourist attraction. It could have found many uses.