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The World’s Worst Designed Apartment Complex

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Good god.

But wait, there’s more.

Someone make it stop. What did the British do to deserve this?

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  • I like it. It’s weird. That being said, when it comes to architecture, I have a very laissez faire “just throw shit at the wall and see what sticks” kind of attitude. I like weird stuff. I even kinda like ugly stuff.

    • UberMitch

      I agree in theory with everything you are saying, but in practice the “little house seemingly under a corner of a different building” is indescribably bad.

      • njorl

        Obviously someone didn’t want to sell, but didn’t control the air-rights to their property.

        • That’s part of the building. It’s supposed to be…get this…a pub.

          • BigHank53

            I tell you what–just the thought of walking into a house that looks like it’s in imminent danger of being crushed puts me in a serious drinking mood.

          • Halloween Jack

            That reminds me strongly of the fictional American Megaversity in Neal Stephenson’s early book The Big U. The school has sold off most of its valuable big-city real estate and constructed a nine-block single Brutalist behemoth of a building to house the college, but has kept some of the old-timey accoutrements, such as wood-paneled offices for the administration and a Ye Olde Pub.

      • I think that’s the part that confuses me. There’s no getting around the fact that its really ugly. Whereas the rest is sort of intriguingly quirky to me.

      • mark f

        Uh, and wtf is with the striped brick . . . front yard?

      • Yes, I was like “Oh this isn’t so bad, a little odd maybe…” until I scrolled down to the little rancher foot part which is more “ohmigodwhathavetheydone!?”

    • Captain Splendid

      Yeah, I like it too, although it has less to do with architecture (while the idea has potential, the finished product is horrendous), and more to do with the fact that it’s not just another plain concrete behemoth.

      TLDR: At least somebody’s trying, even if it’s a miserable failure. This deserves encouragement, not scorn IMO.

      • I disagree, because unlike books or art or movies, it can’t be ignored by the rest of the people in the community. Experimentation in Architecture is fraught. Encouragement, yes. Also a client who knows enough to say “No”.

        • I’m sure the blind members of the community don’t mind it…except for the screams coming from the sighted nearby.

          • gonna be a boon for direction-giving though.

            “just drive until you pass the WTF Building, then take a left.”

            “What’s the WTF Building?”

            “Don’t worry, you’ll know it when you see it.”

            • Origami Isopod

              Not to be confused with the building housing the WTF Group.

              • False advertising! None of their pics make me go WTF.

        • thebewilderness

          If they paint it all one color so the cottages on top don’t look so absurd the neighbors might not complain as much. I have no idea how to convince people to go out drinking in a pub that is being crushed by a fallen apartment block.

      • I’m sort of where you are, though I don’t find it necessarily horrendous. I love that there are disparate elements. I think there are lots of ways they could have brought these disparate elements together and I’m kind of of the opinion that good design calls for doing just that. In fact, I’d say it’s a cornerstone of good design…but I have a feeling that’s the exact opposite of what the architects were looking to do. I kind of admire them for letting their freak flags fly.

        • I think there are lots of ways they could have brought these disparate elements together

          There certainly are. And for whatever reason, they didn’t or couldn’t.

          I would have less of a problem with it if they weren’t using other people’s money and other people’s communities for their Freakish Flags.

          At least I shit in my own community.

          but I have a feeling that’s the exact opposite of what the architects were looking to do

          I confess that this is the first time I have considered it possible to be an Architect Troll.

          • Ha ha ha!!!

          • Origami Isopod

            I confess that this is the first time I have considered it possible to be an Architect Troll.

            Have you never heard of Frank Gehry?

            • I was disdainful of Gehry’s work after his remodeling of his own house, until I visited his addition to the Art Gallery of Toronto, which I quite liked.

          • Have you read Batman Versus Killer Architecture? Hi-lar-ious takedown of “Kem Roolhuas.”

    • sparks

      I like weird stuff. I even kinda like ugly stuff.

      Why, yes. Yes you do. Whatever it’s like underneath, the outward appearance is craptacular.

    • LeeEsq

      So you like buildings that were designed by Gaudi while on a bender?

      • This doesn’t evoke Gaudi at all to me…but I think a building designed by a drunk Gaudi would probably be gorgeous.

        • You assume that the entirety of buildings designed by Gaudi weren’t done while he was drunk.

          • I remember reading a little tidbit about his being pretty religious…then again I think he was catholic.

            • I had a Gaudi bender while in college. Had a studio with a visiting professor from Spain, the whole semester project was sited in barcelona. Haven’t gotten to visit yet, though.

              • Sagrada Familia is the only building I’ve waited on line for and was it more than worth it. I stood in the middle of the sanctuary staring up for about half an hour without moving.

            • LeeEsq

              Yes, Gaudi was a very devote Catholic. There is no contradiction between being fond of drink and Catholicism.

      • This building doesn’t look like someone dripped wet sand from his clenched fist.

  • Xenos

    What did the British do to deserve this?

    Lots.

    • Shakezula

      “Have you ever eaten their food? Have you ever tried to put it in your mouth?”

      • Pestilence

        Tried, yes.

        Altho ‘food’ may be stretching the definition

    • It is pay back for colonial oppression in Africa and elsewhere. ;-)

      • calling all toasters

        And for Andrew Lloyd Webber.

        • Pestilence

          *partial* payback for ALW

      • Thom

        My thoughts exactly. Plus 300 years of slave trade and slavery. Unfortunately, though, many British people today are descendants of the former slaves or the formerly colonized peoples.

        • Dave

          And indeed, of the people who slaved in the factories at the same time, thank you very much. Race doesn’t always trump class, y’know.

  • What did the British do to deserve this?

    British plumbing, litter, colonialism, cuisine, and Hugh Grant, to start.

    • bph

      As a citizen of the USA, I guess we are just screwed, then.

    • Bill Murray

      you left out Andrew Sullivan and John Derbyshire

      • Origami Isopod

        Nobody’s mentioned Piers Morgan yet?

    • Data Tutashkhia

      Yeah, apart from the steam engine, magna carta, and Newtonian physics, they’ve never done anything for us.

      • ajay

        You forgot railways, telegraph, antibiotics, the jet engine, the computer, electromagnetism, the theory of evolution, logarithms, the pneumatic tyre, parliamentary democracy, radar, CT scans, the structure of DNA, the cause of malaria and the joint stock corporation.

        • Data Tutashkhia

          Yeah, sure, that all goes without saying, but aside from that they’ve done nothing for us.

        • It all pales next to non-mixer taps, carpet in the bathroom, and Scouse* accents.

          * Except for that of the Beatles.

        • That Other Mike

          The modern world and everything in it we take for granted as a good thing. Well, maybe not everything, but a lot of it. I think in balance, we come out quite well.

    • Balu

      Niall Ferguson. Scottish, but thanks to 1707, he is British.

    • LeeEsq

      If this punishment for British colonialism, is an unfortunate liking for Jerry Lewis retribution for French colonialism?

    • Eggomaniac

      British plumbing, litter, colonialism, cuisine, and Hugh Grant, to start.

      I think you meant English. Except for the plumbing. And haggis.

      • BigHank53

        The British gave us flush toilets. Hot water, not so much.

        • British toilets are very weird, esp. the urinals.

          The non-ubiquity of mixer taps is a real crime, though.

        • Actually, I’ve had no trouble with hot water in Manchester…indeed, it’s often too hot.

    • guthrie

      I thought we gave all these things to the USA so they could use them as a foundation to create even worse things?

      • Njorl

        I’ll buy that, at least as far as Hugh Grant is concerned.

    • Walt

      There’s some movie where Hugh Grant plays the Prime Minister, and gives the most stirring pro-British speech ever.

    • One thing I’ve noticed in my over 6 years living in Manchester is that new construction tends to be pretty awful. On Oxford road, they replaced a lovely lowrise with really nice stone work with a bizarre, black brick Holiday Inn Express. It’s stupid and offensively ugly from every angle. It doesn’t even have the possibility of pleasing the eye, indeed, of not making the eye at least dry heave.

      Similarly, the University of Manchester put up a giant tin can with flashing that got all dented in the first week from zephyrs. The weirdly space gray on gray letters cannot be read in full from any angle. It’s not particularly nice inside either.

      OTOH, Metropolitian seems to be able to put up some nice new buildings.

  • What did the British do to deserve this?

    LIGHTS GO OUT AND I CAN’T BE SAVED
    TIDES THAT I TRY TO SWIM AGAINST…

    That’s what.

    • JKTHs

      This apartment complex is not nearly enough retribution for that though.

      • sharculese

        What if Coldplay were required to live in the little house on the bottom?

        • BigHank53

          Maybe that’s what they told the architects.

  • elm

    Well, one thing I learned from looking at the pictures: the window tax must no longer be in effect!

    • Anna in PDX

      LOL I was thinking this too but at LGM someone always gets there first.

  • Icarus Wright

    “Our general philosophy about architecture is that much of it is very dull with no sense of exuberance, or any openness to a wider variety of influences and sources” added Griffiths. “This building is part of our expression that architecture should contribute something more memorable.”

    So much win.

    • rea

      Well, he certainly achieved “memorable”.

      • He started a whole new movement: Bau-wau Haus

        • Anonymous

          Bela Lugosi’s Apartment’s Dead. It’s dead, it’s dead, it’s dead

          • BKNinCanadia

            FTW

  • It’s like someone looked at a 1970 Stalinoid concrete apartment building and said, “You know what’s wrong with this thing? It needs kitsch.”

    • Sherm

      My first thought — Mike Brady’s designs from the Brady Bunch Movie.

      • JustRuss

        Win!!!

    • EJ

      It’s more like someone took about 5 generic McMansions and just glued them together.

      Or it’s the thing that you made when you were a kid out of all the odd lego bricks left over after you made the things you were planning to build.

      • Or it’s the thing that you made when you were a kid out of all the odd lego bricks left over after you made the things you were planning to build.

        This.

    • Eggomaniac

      +1

  • I suppose if you had one of the top houses you could brag that everyone else was living in a packing crate underneath you. That seems British to me.

    • Eggomaniac

      It does seem rather obviously assertive in its classism.

  • njorl

    I like how the blinds resemble boarded up windows.

    • sharculese

      Until I saw the second image I just assumed someone had built a row of condos on the roof of an abandoned factory.

      • I’ve done condos on top of a factory, and let me tell you, that’s still a mistake.

      • Just Dropping By

        That was my exact reaction too.

  • rea

    Headline: “Russian Criminal Organization Launches Cyber Attack on Architectural Firm”

    • Shakezula

      No nation would risk the kind of retribution that would deserve.

  • commie atheist

    The Community In A Cube (CIAC) building was first conceived as part of a larger masterplan drawn up by architect Will Alsop in 2004 for a site beside the city’s old docks. Other ideas for the development included a building shaped like a toaster and an apartment block resembling a stack of Jenga pieces.

    The only thing better would be if the Jenga pieces actually moved.

  • JKTHs

    “Designed” is a pretty generous term for what the architects did here.

    • sibusisodan

      Two theories here: the architects are either southerners taking yet another dump on an area which has been industry less and jobless for a generation or more, and this is just salt in the wound.

      Or they’re from Newcastle, and have just played one of the finest neighbouring rivalry pranks of all time.

      • rea

        My personal, latest theory is that they put it together from extra parts left over from other projects . . .

  • Sothis happened.

    And this.

    Oh no! What if they made a building like this! That would be awful!

    Thank goodness they had the good sense to design something “cartoon-like.” Thank goodness a contemporary architectural journal thinks that the term “cartoon-like” is a compliment when applied to a building.

    Oh, and most of all, thank goodness they designed a building that’s “like a little urban village,” instead of building an actual little urban village. Phew, really dodged a bullet there!

    • UserGoogol

      Don’t knock cartoons. Cartoons are one of the great artforms of our age. And this building has fairly little to do with cartoons. Cartoons are about stylization and creativity. Cartoony does not and should not mean “weird and vaguely alarming.” (For example, Batman the Animated Series fits quite nicely alongside the Chrysler Building.)

      • Cartoony gives us the Fred & Ginger building in Prague, which is all kinds of neat.

  • Holy crap! That looks like Rem Koolhas meets Rovert Moses!

    • There’s a bit of old Robert Stern in there too.

      • I can’t wait to see the simple lines of the George W Bush Presidential Liberry.

        • sharculese

          Can you make a building in the shape of an eagle driving a thunderbolt into a terrorist while high-fiving the Statue of Liberty?

          • JRoth

            Now I wish I taught an architecture studio class.

      • Can’t be his brain. That’s in a bell jar at the University Club.

  • He continued: “You have a thing that looks like a Swiss chalet on the ground floor, which was going to be the the local community pub. Then you have housing on the roof that taps into local culture. They’re not exactly ordinary houses, more of an aesthetic expression you’d be more likely to find in New England or Kent, but they become very odd because they sit on top on an apartment building.”

    I can appreciate their reckoning that drinking had to be done.

  • I’m getting the “President Palin” ad below the pictures of the building, and…I don’t know…they just seem to go together somehow.

    • sharculese

      It’s pronounced ‘presnit’.

      • RhZ

        Presnit Palin? Why, that has quite a ring to it! That’s all the basis I need to vote for her in 2016! She will bring honor back to the White House!!

  • Heck, I agree with the Dr. that experimentation can be encouraged, and weirdness in the built environment is perfectly fine. Heck, I like The Crayon box!

    But, and I say this as one who’s current project is putting four stories in modern idiom on top of a 1914 single story Pierce-Arrow dealership, when you try something far out, you better have full control of the design.

    And that just doesn’t. What it needed more than anything is a client who knew how to say “No”.

    • Saying “I meant to do that” doesn’t make it any better.

    • One thing I will say for my college design professors, they saw through shoddy rationalization and wouldn’t allow it during project presentations.

      Eventually, I had a violent SOB boss that wouldn’t allow it either. At this point, when I do something weird, I have WELL-THOUGHT-OUT Rationalizations!

  • Speaking for myself, I do a LOTS better job than that when drunk. even when sober.

  • “Doctors bury their mistakes. All Architects can do is plant vines”

    I hope the landscape budget is generous.

    • You’ll notice how the pub is obscured from all but a head-on view

  • (the other) Davis

    Is this the architectural equivalent of trolling?

    • dammit, other, I JUST posted that exact comment elsewhere in the thread!

      Oh, well, at least mine is upthread so everyone will assume you lifted it from my comment.

      • (the other) Davis

        We even have matching time stamps!

  • wengler

    The worst part is pretty cosmetic and can be easily changed. Those black X’s make it look condemned. The rest certainly isn’t good, but could be strange curiosity, like those futuristic sculptures in communist Yugoslavia.

    • Eggomaniac

      I don’t know. I think the worst part are the Monopoly mansions sitting on top. Not much can be done about those that wouldn’t be expensive.

      The black X’s do make it look like they forgot to remove the shipping tape. That’s an easy fix, as you say.

  • “Our general philosophy about architecture is that much of it is very dull with no sense of exuberance, or any openness to a wider variety of influences and sources” added Griffiths. “This building is part of our expression that architecture should contribute something more memorable.”

    Traditional architecture is so oppressive. Who says my design for a building has to be inspired by a building? Why can’t it be inspired by, say, a Wal Mart display of brightly-colored plastic cups from China? That’s the type of concept that will really have a lasting significance for people.

    • Vance Maverick

      How is it that no-one has yet cited Michael Graves in this thread. Admittedly, Target rather than Wal-Mart, but pretty close….

  • OK, now that we all have that out of our system and I have a drink in me, I have to say I like the mosaic at the back of the court, and the stripey plaza too.

    Remove the fakey houses, top and bottom, and it might even be pretty good.

    • No. The bottom house, yes. But I like the top ones. They just need to look as if they have something to do with the rest of the building, either through color with some of the weird little markers they put on the rest of the thing. That’s just my opinion. I’m the artist, but you’re the architect. Oh well I guess we’re both artists.

      • BigHank53

        Add some fake trees and bushes around the fake houses and it will actually help.

        • I’m thinking a lawn-mower glued to the vertical side of the main block about 5 feet down from the main-block roof.

        • Add a bunch of fake dogs.

      • There’s nothing wrong with a penthouse element there, but they way they did it was misbegotten at best. best to take them off now. Heck, remove the walls and wrap them with glass curtain wall, and it would work better.

      • I suggest adding some C5 to those top two elements.

    • JRoth

      The stripey plaza bugs me for a couple reasons (granting that it’s at least possible that it works IRL): 1. It’s so vast and impervious and dizzying, although maybe the scale is exaggerated by the pics; 2. WTF is with that swale right before you get to the pubchalet?

      I can’t decide whether any plausible version of those pent houses would work, or if the idea is just inherently obvious and kitschy-ironic. Like a statue of a garden gnome in the courtyard.

  • Eggomaniac

    What’s frightening is this is sufficiently unique that it will probably get Graded, and then not only will you never be rid of it, but you won’t be able to change it.

    • English Heritage never instituted the Grade X, did they? The grade that stated “this must be demolished.”

  • Stag Party Palin

    Where’s the abbatoir?

    • Stag Party Palin

      Or, where’s the abattoir?

    • wjts

      Did you say “knives”?

      • Tyto

        Rotating knives, yes.

  • Shakezula

    For some reason I thought of Lovecraft’s many angled ones AND Monty Python’s Architecture skit AT THE SAME TIME.

    OK. No. My hometown has more than its fair share of architectural moments. Sometimes it is cool. But sometimes it sucks.

    But here’s what I’ve learned. The cooler and more different it looks on day one, the quicker people will get sick of the sight of it. Here we’re talking picoseconds.

    And then there is the issue of maintenance. How long will that paintwork stay fresh, and what will it cost to touch it up? And the woodwork. This place is on the water. Have fun reapplying the poly to keep that from looking even more crap. Idiots.

    • Leeds man

      Yeah, I was wondering where they put the rotating knives.

      Actually, I like it. A change from the usual boring dreck.

  • Looks like a Tudor mansion on top of a parking garage on top of a barn.

    Proof that at least one architect in the UK is doing drugs.

    • Shakezula

      Meanwhile, in the Netherlands.

      I don’t mind this because it is relatively restrained and it is a hotel, not a residence.

      • LeftWingFox

        Homestuck flashbacks.

    • They must be really good drugs too.

  • LeftWingFox

    It does look like the pub was stuffed in there to keep the whole thing from wobbling.

  • herr doktor bimler

    “It was about assembling disparate elements you would think of as incongruous into a collage that has an expression of community.”

    Allowing a community to develop of its own accord takes time, and is unpredictable, so let’s impose one!

    • Turkle

      Right. Has no one read Jane Jacobs? This sort of thing still reeks of the high modernism it ostensibly subverts…

    • in Bimler’s defense, there’s no way it looks any worse upside-down.

  • What a bunch of aesthetic fascists.

    I mean, it’s no giant dough-nut or giant hot dog in a bun (Real architecture!) but it’s certainly whimsical.

    • If by “whimsical” you mean “vomit-inducing”…

  • ajay

    “I’ll say this for the Luftwaffe: at least when they destroyed the centres of our cities, they didn’t replace them with anything more offensive than rubble. We did that.” — the very splendid and worthwhile Prince Philip

  • montag

    Oh, sweet jaysus, the penthouses are… houses.

    How is the NPT ever going to work if we keep putting up worthwhile targets?

  • MatthewsB

    To quote the the very article,”Our general philosophy about architecture is that much of it is very dull with no sense of exuberance, or any openness to a wider variety of influences and sources” added [FAT director Sean] Griffiths. “This building is part of our expression that architecture should contribute something more memorable.” :)

  • Peter VE

    What have the French done to deserve this? I blame Ayn Rand. The Fountainhead has blighted far too many young minds, resulting in generations of architects believing that any excrescense they may conceive demonstrate the greatness of their genius.

  • I used to think that no high rise building in the UK could approach the sheer mediocre awfulness of Arlington House in Margate, but I might have to revise my opinion…other buildings are creeping down to join it…

  • Worst designed like a FOX! Oh, _please_ tell me that the penthouses have actual lawns with grass.

  • Habib Kazem

    I still find it more better designed then those low-income housing projects in the U.S.

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