The World’s Worst Designed Apartment Complex

Good god.

But wait, there’s more.

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

166 comments on this post.
  1. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    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.

  2. Xenos:

    What did the British do to deserve this?


  3. Bijan Parsia:

    What did the British do to deserve this?

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

  4. 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.

  5. joe from Lowell:

    What did the British do to deserve this?


    That’s what.

  6. elm:

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

  7. 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.

  8. joe from Lowell:

    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.”

  9. Substance McGravitas:

    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.

  10. bph:

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

  11. Bill Murray:

    you left out Andrew Sullivan and John Derbyshire

  12. njorl:

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

  13. njorl:

    I like how the blinds resemble boarded up windows.

  14. Data Tutashkhia:

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

  15. sharculese:

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

  16. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    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.

  17. JKTHs:

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

  18. 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.

  19. sharculese:

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

  20. mark f:

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

  21. Balu:

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

  22. Sherm:

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

  23. rea:

    Well, he certainly achieved “memorable”.

  24. rea:

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. JKTHs:

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

  28. LeeEsq:

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

  29. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Weyull. You are certainly entitled to your opinion.

  30. LeeEsq:

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

  31. joe from Lowell:

    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!

  32. 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.

  33. actor212:

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

  34. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

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

  35. actor212:

    He started a whole new movement: Bau-wau Haus

  36. 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.

  37. actor212:

    I wonder how the job was bid out?

  38. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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”.

  39. actor212:

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

  40. zombie rotten mcdonald:

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

  41. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

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

  42. Substance McGravitas:

    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.

  43. joe from Lowell:

    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.

  44. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I don’t know, but it amuses me.

  45. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    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.

  46. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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”.

  47. zombie rotten mcdonald:

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

  48. zombie rotten mcdonald:

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

  49. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I will vouch for this.

  50. zombie rotten mcdonald:

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

  51. zombie rotten mcdonald:

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

    I hope the landscape budget is generous.

  52. actor212:

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

  53. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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.

  54. actor212:

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

  55. actor212:

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

  56. (the other) Davis:

    Is this the architectural equivalent of trolling?

  57. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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.

  58. 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.

  59. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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.


  60. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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.

  61. Shakezula:

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

  62. joe from Lowell:

    “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.

  63. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    I’ve seen that movie.

  64. Eggomaniac:


  65. Shakezula:

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

  66. Eggomaniac:

    It does seem rather obviously assertive in its classism.

  67. 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.

  68. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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.

  69. 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?

  70. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Here’s something fun. When I was kid, somebody designed a park feature that looked like a Gaudi…in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I grew up playing on that thing.

  71. (the other) Davis:

    We even have matching time stamps!

  72. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Ha ha ha!!!

  73. 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.

  74. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    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.

  75. Stag Party Palin:

    Where’s the abbatoir?

  76. zombie rotten mcdonald:

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

  77. Stag Party Palin:

    Or, where’s the abattoir?

  78. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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!

  79. Eggomaniac:

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

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

  80. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    Oh yeah?

    Well, we have a Fonzie Statue!

  81. 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.

  82. BigHank53:

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

  83. 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.

  84. BigHank53:

    Maybe that’s what they told the architects.

  85. BigHank53:

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

  86. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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.

  87. N__B:

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

  88. N__B:

    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.

  89. N__B:

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

  90. N__B:

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

  91. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    I suggest adding some C5 to those top two elements.

  92. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    “Textbook penthouse wart removal, sir!”

  93. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    What’s the difference?

  94. sharculese:

    It’s pronounced ‘presnit’.

  95. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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.”

  96. wjts:

    Did you say “knives”?

  97. guthrie:

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

  98. Leeds man:

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

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

  99. Major Kong:

    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.

  100. J. Otto Pohl:

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

  101. J. Otto Pohl:

    It is a down payment on a huge invoice.

  102. Shakezula:

    Meanwhile, in the Netherlands.

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

  103. J. Otto Pohl:

    They must be really good drugs too.

  104. calling all toasters:

    And for Andrew Lloyd Webber.

  105. Origami Isopod:

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

  106. 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?

  107. Origami Isopod:

    Well, this isn’t anywhere near me, but since I found it yesterday… have a Republican statue.

  108. Origami Isopod:

    Nobody’s mentioned Piers Morgan yet?

  109. Tyto:

    Rotating knives, yes.

  110. LeftWingFox:

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

  111. LeftWingFox:

    Homestuck flashbacks.

  112. 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!

  113. 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.)

  114. delurking:

    Dr.KennethN! You’re from Fayetteville? I teach down the mountain in the Fort. I used to take my kid up the hill to play on that castle!

  115. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Are you serious? Holy crap! It’s a small awesome world we live in! Always great to meet another Arkansan!

  116. Dr.KennethNoisewater:


  117. rea:

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

  118. Turkle:

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

  119. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    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.

  120. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    hire a hall.

  121. Pestilence:

    Tried, yes.

    Altho ‘food’ may be stretching the definition

  122. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    yeah, UGLY dreck.

  123. Pestilence:

    *partial* payback for ALW

  124. 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.

  125. 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.

  126. JustRuss:


  127. N__B:

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

  128. N__B:

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

  129. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    Bruce Wayne always did kind of have a Randian vibe.

  130. zombie rotten mcdonald:

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

  131. zombie rotten mcdonald:

    Add a bunch of fake dogs.

  132. LeeEsq:

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

  133. Anonymous:

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

  134. Bill Murray:

    it’s the b’s t’s

  135. 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….

  136. Walt:

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

  137. M. Bouffant:

    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.

  138. Bijan Parsia:

    British toilets are very weird, esp. the urinals.

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

  139. Bijan Parsia:

    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.

  140. Doug:

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

  141. Doug:

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

  142. 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.

  143. 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

  144. 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.

  145. Data Tutashkhia:

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

  146. 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!!

  147. Bijan Parsia:

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

    * Except for that of the Beatles.

  148. Bijan Parsia:

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

  149. actor212:

    Have you seen all the sequels?

    Hypercube was great.

  150. actor212:

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

  151. montag:

    Oh, sweet jaysus, the penthouses are… houses.

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

  152. 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.

  153. Just Dropping By:

    That was my exact reaction too.

  154. 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.” :)

  155. 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.

  156. J.W. Hamner:

    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!?”

  157. Anna in PDX:

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

  158. JRoth:

    Now I wish I taught an architecture studio class.

  159. 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.

  160. Njorl:

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

  161. 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.

  162. Peter VE:

    Linky fixed</a.

  163. Graham Shevlin:

    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…

  164. BKNinCanadia:


  165. Mike Crichton:

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

  166. Habib Kazem:

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

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