Croydon’s controversial Saffron Square avoided the 2016 Carbuncle Cup award for worst British building, but its shortlisting raises concerns about Croydon’s regeneration process.
Described by followers of the award as a ‘squashed fly’ an ‘oversized lego creation’ and boasting a ‘car crash of a façade’, the gaudy tower has attracted criticism at every stage of its development.
Much like Hollywood’s Razzies, the Carbuncle Cup bestows ignominy upon its recipients, with a panel of architects and critics making their choice from buildings completed in the past year.
Last year’s winner was the notorious 20 Fenchurch Street, nicknamed the ‘walkie talkie’ for its bulging appearance.
Several members of the panel write for architecture news website BD Online, and their assistant editor Elizabeth Hopkirk said the award was setup in 2006 to highlight bad architecture and design.
Although a matter of taste, she pointed out the pressure councils are under to provide new housing for lower costs, meaning design experience and expertise in local authorities is lacking.
“Their resources have been hideously cut back, and the money has to go to things like social care for example,” she said.
“If they say no to a development scheme without good legal reasons the developers can appeal.”
Ms Hopkirk cited the Belgian and Dutch models as better examples of town planning, claiming they possess much more proactive councils, with a much greater say in the look of the town as a whole.
Croydon has become part of a new wave of town planning, with further tall builds set to change the south London skyline.
BD Online suggests Croydon was earmarked for redevelopment due to its much maligned post-war regeneration project, which saw a rapid rise of concrete tower blocks.
“Give an architect the chance to ‘regenerate’ a city centre blighted by the worst excesses of 1960s planning and there is an unfortunate tendency to try and counter the unremitting bleakness with something that looks like it’s been parachuted in from outer space,” their website says.
Critics of Saffron Square will be hoping other developers take note of the Carbuncle Cup nomination and do their best not to follow suit.
Feature image of Saffron Tower courtesy of Thomas Laing, with thanks