The Carbuncle Cup 2024

Raising a toast to the worst new building in Britain.

The results are in. The Fence has found a winner for the Carbuncle Cup, crowning what we believe to be the very worst new building in Britain to be opened since 31 August 2018, the last time the award was handed out. The buildings were nominated by the public and then judged by a panel of experts. 

Their shortlist selection, narrowed from 50 final entries, reflect a range of developments from across the country which, taken as a whole, epitomise Britain’s architectural malaise. Entries were assessed not only for their design flaws and lack of utility, but also for their wastefulness in construction, their impact on the urban environment around them – and, of course, their hideousness. 

Below are the six buildings shortlisted for The Fence’s 2024 Carbuncle Cup – and at the end you will find the winner. Our commendations to all of the firms involved, as well as the planners, politicians, value engineers and clients who supported them along the way.


W Hotel, Edinburgh 

Jestico + Whiles, 2023

Public nomination:

‘Literally a dump on the city of surreal dreams, an imaginative catheter failure… It’s quite literally shit.’– Paddy Lynch, via Instagram 

It used to be the case that architects and developers dreamed of their masterpiece earning a nickname – to the degree that they started making them up (‘The Cheesegrater!’). The W Hotel, however, has put paid to that trend. Known colloquially in Edinburgh as the ‘Golden Jobby’ or just ‘The Jobby’, Jestico + Whiles’ excrescence made all the early running online, yet fell short of taking home the trophy as it doesn’t look like it’s just been curled off from every angle. Consistency, forgive the term, is everything. 

Virgin Hotel, Glasgow 

Twenty First Architects, 2023

Public nomination:

‘Perhaps the worst new build hotel in the world, it ruins one of the most important spots in the centre of Glasgow.’ – Sheila M, via email.

Standing – how on earth did planners let this happen – seventeen stories tall on the banks of the Clyde, the Virgin Hotel is one of the worst assaults on the city since General Sir Charles Harington sent tanks to the city to quell strikes in 1919. After four months of trading, the Hotel is now shuttered: a useless double-stack of dreck stood alongside St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool 

Carillion, 2022

Public nomination: 

‘It takes some going to actually be worse than the 60s eyesore it replaces but this island of shite in the middle of the city manages it.’– Steve Thomas, via email. 

We seem as a society to be utterly grateful if any hospital, whatever the appearance, gets built. ‘Like eight awful buildings jammed into one,’ summarised one panellist; this dystopian construction fails as a project on multiple fronts. A series of attempts to make a decent façade, copy-pasted next to each other in the hope that something sticks. Delayed, expensive, structurally flawed and overseen by a failing construction company, Carillion, the Royal is a disaster of a modern hospital – and one of two Liverpool-based projects to make the shortlist. 

Mast Quay II, London 

Comer Homes Group, 2022

Public nomination:

‘Mast Quay in Greenwich. So bad the council has ordered it to be demolished.’ – James Fisher, via Twitter.

It could have been Castlepark View in Bristol or Phoenix Flats in Leeds, but in the end, Greenwich’s Mast Quay II edged ahead of the competition for the most repugnant new block of flats in Britain. The panel was initially reluctant to acknowledge a block that the Royal Borough of Greenwich had deemed so aberrant from its original intention that it has already ordered its demolition. But its image was burned onto their collective unconscious: born of a ferocious indolence, it is aggressively, hatefully ugly.  

Lime Street Redevelopment, Liverpool 

Broadway Malyan, 2019

Public nomination: 

‘What’s the most disgusting new building you’ve seen in the last few years? For me, the monstrosity of modern Lime Street.’ – Kieran Morris, via Twitter. 

Now dominating the entire left-hand thoroughfare from Liverpool Lime Street station, this mass-scale redevelopment demolished a century of businesses and buildings, replacing them with sheet-metal etchings of the cinemas and bars that once stood. Behind that façade, much like everything else in Liverpool, is a 412-bed student accommodation block and a 101-room Premier Inn hotel – two new additions that the city’s residents have never asked for or benefited from. 

Ilona Rose House, London

MATT Architecture, 2021

Public nomination:

‘The real carbuncle is across the road at Ilona Rose House, where its toilet-tissue cladding bulges over the pavement.’ – Alex Christian, via Twitter.

Ilona Rose House – sat on the site of the old Foyles Bookshop – drew opprobrium for its existence and for replacing a much-beloved building. The headquarters of Soho Estates, Ilona Rose House narrowly beat its rival over the road, the Outernet, by dint of its total lack of utility to the general public beyond Australian brunch parlours. We might get kicked out of our office – full disclosure, Soho Estates are The Fence’s landlord – but ugly is ugly. 



Lidl signs at Lime Street - Place North West

Lime Street Redevelopment, Liverpool 

Broadway Malyan, 2019

From the very first viewing, two of our panel had this as their number one selection, and as the longlist was narrowed to a shortlist, this hideous bit of architectural misadventure continued to stick out. By the end of the adjudication, everyone was in total agreement – the 2024 Carbuncle Cup goes to Broadway Malyan’s mixed-use redevelopment of Lime Street in Liverpool, opened in January 2019.

Our Jury Chair, Tim Abrahams, had this to say:

‘People aren’t hopeless romantics. Most of us understand that sometimes, buildings need to be knocked down and replaced with better ones. This is the nature of dynamic, forward looking cities: things change. Here, though, a bunch of developers have been allowed to knock down a happy, eclectic row of buildings – including the much-loved, sorely-missed Futurist cinema – and replaced it with such nothingness, such banality that their only option is to cover it with a screen. Upon which, they have drawn portraits of those same old demolished buildings.

Greed has rarely looked so greedy. In a city of architectural wonders, hawkers and vagabonds have tried to mask a reductive square metrage to profit equation with a Joker-like stink bomb of local boosterism and cynical nostalgia. Get, as they used to say in the old days, stuffed.’


Our 2024 panel consisted of seven judges:

  • Tim Abrahams (chair) – contributing editor, Architectural Record
  • Vicky Richardson – FRIBA, architectural curator
  • Cajsa Carlson – deputy editor, Dezeen
  • James McLachlan – former editor, Icon
  • Lucy Watson – commissioning editor, Financial Times
  • Dr Penny Lewis – lecturer, University of Dundee; co-founder of the Carbuncle Awards
  • Charlie Baker – editor, The Fence

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