Last edited 13 Jun 2017

Eyesore

The term 'eyesore' is commonly used to describe a building or structure that is ugly or unsightly. This is a subjective assessment, although some common characteristics that can contribute to being labelled an eyesore include:

  • Dilapidation.
  • Graffiti.
  • Litter.
  • Pollution.
  • Advertising and other signage.
  • Transmission towers, wind turbines and other 'industrial' structures.
  • Brownfield sites.
  • Stalled construction sites.
  • Innapropriate development out of character with its context.

Eyesores can blight local areas, affecting moral, inward investment and property prices, and encouraging anti-social behaviour such as fly tipping and graffiti that make the problem worse. Local authorities and national governments sometimes seek to improve or remove eyesores, sometimes as part of a wider gentrification strategy. This may take place for example if there is a high-profile project requiring a large amount of investment in an area, such as the Olympic Games.

The Carbuncle Cup is an annual architectural prize awarded by the magazine Building Design. The 'winner' is 'the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months.' The award is usually timed to coincide with the prestigious Sterling Prize, as a light-hearted way of identifying 'crimes against architecture'. The name is derived from Prince Charles' oft-quoted criticism of the proposed extension to the National Gallery in 1984 which he described as “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”.

Some 'winners' of the cup are shown below.

Carbuncle1.jpg Carbuncle2.jpg
Drake Circus Shopping Centre, Plymouth (2006) Opal Court, Leicester (2007)
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Liverpool Ferry Terminal, Liverpool (2009) Woolwich Central, London (2014)

Some projects can be initially regarded as eyesores before being reappraised, such as; the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pompidou Centre and Lloyd’s of London.

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