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Who are you calling ugly?

The Pier Head Ferry terminal building has been deemed the ugliest new building in Britain. It's in good company with our list of World Heritage site eyesores that got past the planners

Published on October 27th 2010.


Who are you calling ugly?

IS the ferry terminal building really that bad?

Yes, really. It is, say Building Design Magazine who have awarded the Pier Head Ferry terminal building the “Carbuncle Cup” for crimes against a World Heritage site.

Amanda Baillieu, editor, who judged it with another member of staff on the mag, and an architect after a record number of public nominations, said: "It was given the Carbuncle Cup as much for where it is, as for its lack of architectural merit.

"The city's waterfront is one of the most important historical sites in Britain and you've got to be very careful with the architecture you put up there.”

Yeh right. Hang on, isn't this all a bit shutting-the-stable-door-after-the-horses-have-bolted?

Since being awarded UNESCO World Heritage site status, several boils have formed on the Mersey waterfront – without even mentioning the lost opportunity of Will Alsop's Cloud which was, some say, scuppered after endless mischief put the willies up everyone involved.

The multi-storey car park at Princes Dock is one of the most offensive, and while the jury is still deliberating on the X Box (aka The Liverpool Museum), its next door neighbour on Mann Island, the Neptune development of flats and offices, has the dual distinction of being a blot on the landscape from wherever you stand, while blotting out the best of the waterfront landscape (the Three Graces), should you be standing anywhere south of the Pier Head.

Down here at Wapping there is yet more aesthetic agony in the ungainly shape of One Park West, sixth in the magazine's “hit-parade-with-a-silent-'s'”.

And with a swivel of the head, look at that Police HQ, with its bunker style it is perhaps not the greatest PR tool a force could employ.

Not so long ago, The Royal Liver Building ranked sixth in another list of rank structures – this time an all-time top ten list of ugly British buildings – oddly compiled after a poll was taken of computer game-playing nerds.

The Hamilton Architect-designed ferry terminal came in for criticism from the start. It was “approved” by Liverpool City Council's planning committee in 2007 only after its chairman, Cllr Doreen Jones, said she felt she was being blackmailed into rubber stamping it rather than lose the £9.5m cash earmarked for the development. But rubber-stamp it she did.

Meanwhile, leader of the council Warren Bradley says it's an improvement on what was there before, although that's what they said about Councillor Bradley.

The Merseytravel building houses a ticket office and a Beatles store and exhibition space, but judging by its coffee shop, complete with rows of rest-home style armchairs, owner Natasha Hamilton (no relation) has perhaps employed decorators that interpreted the word “terminal” a little too creatively.

And while the beautiful and interesting recent buildings around town far outweigh the bad, here's our own top – or should that be bottom – funsize ten of Merseyside design maladies. Most of them are perilously close to the river, and given a few years of global warming....

One Park West: "Just like being in The Shining," one resident told Confidential recently

Baltic Triangle: But for the recession, here's what we may have won, as Jim Bowen would say

Unity Building: We may yet come to love it, like they said in Beauty and the Beast

White flats at Queens Dock: One day it was just there

Merseyside Police HQ, Canning Place: Progress, or an architectural crime?

The Sandcastle: You either love it or loathe it...but, still, mainly just loathe it

Royal Liverpool Hospital: Winner for 30 years running

St John's Precinct: The Trinny and Susannahs of the building world have tried with the dark cladding, but....

Mann Island Neptune Development: Was this worth the loss of the world famous view of the Three Graces from the south? many wonder

The car park at Princes Dock: “Contracts only” it says above the 0161 number....

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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Michelle DalySeptember 1st 2009.

I feel sad when I see what they've done to the Pier Head and Liverpool One looks like Belle Vale...

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2009.

The only structures that architects seem to be capable of producing are those visually akin to high storey 'flats'. The grace and beauty of Liverpools old classical buildings is being enveloped by 'tat'

Betta BildaSeptember 1st 2009.

The Merseyside police HQ can't help but be ugly as it was designed and built in the 1970s when sombre brick cladding superseded the aluminium and glass fashionable in the 1960s. What I can't understand is why One Park West's revival of the discredited and unpopular 1960s look is hailed as "iconic" - it looks like a technical college. A lot of the opinions being bandied about aren’t anything to do with ‘taste’ at all but are from vested interests to put pressure on vain and simple-minded politicans to demolish useful and adequate (if not always the prettiest) buildings and for the developers to reap vast profits developing the sites. The replacement buildings will be fashionable, very novel, very expensive, but won’t last very long and us mugs the local taxpayers have to make the best of whatever is inflicted upon us.

Stanley StreetSeptember 1st 2009.

When I was about nine years old and mad about Thunderbirds and futuristic design I used to draw buildings resembling the new ferry terminal. The thing is that I grew out of it. What on earth is wrong with the ‘architect’ responsible for this large, angular eyesore?

scousekrautSeptember 1st 2009.

Steel and Glas has never attracted me. Its good for about 30 years and then ripped down.Here in Frankfurt we have lots of skyscrapers and mostly they are of no interest but they provide functioanla office space for the bankers and others. They wont be around in 50 years, except for one or two.Liverpool One is not particularly appealing to the eye - though I liike the roof garden - but it functions as a shopping centre with flats and a hotel and at least it is not all indoors. Everywhere is beginning to look pretty much the same.

The Man on the Garston OmnibusSeptember 1st 2009.

Too much of all this was development for quick profit’s sake. The old bus station at the Pier Head was low-rise and unobtrusive as well as being an asset to the city and offering a huge, free viewing platform offering clear open views of the river. You could get a bus to anywhere from the Pier Head. Now you need a map of the city centre to find your bus stop – the so-called ‘bus station’ at Wapping was so poorly designed that buses cannot actually wait there or it gridlocks the already congested dock road! How much did this c*ck-up cost? The ferries are suffering too because commuters using the buses cannot get near the ferries, indeed the rush-hour Woodside commuter ferry service has been closed down.

bookerSPSeptember 1st 2009.

I think past and present councillors should be prosecuted. The ones responsible for knocking down the original Cavern, the quick buck merchant that sold the Lambs building by the Baltic Fleet (Why didn't he keep the front bit if he was skint) and the blind fools that have ruined the waterfront. In London they restored a bridge that was covered in as it was designed by IK Brunel, we tore down the landing stage designed by his father, And then the replacement sank !!!!!!!!

Andy EmgeesSeptember 1st 2009.

The ugly, small landing stage sank TWICE booker SP, once when it was new (1972?) and a couple of years ago when the ferries had to disembark passengers up a steep narrow plank in a grubby shed for months on end.Whoever decided to demolish the old Sailor's Home should be publicly flogged.

Stan ButlerSeptember 1st 2009.

Someone must be responsible for the mess. The modern and well-used Cable Street bus station took over a year to build but couldn't have been more than five years old when it was knocked down! This city must have money to burn!

This stupid councilSeptember 1st 2009.

I have just been down Renshaw Street, the first time since Rapid closed. It's a ghost town, along with swathes of Church Street, not to mention all the ladies clothes shops empty at the bottom of Bold St and in Clayton Square. Does that sound like sensible planning?

Stan ButlerSeptember 1st 2009.

Presumably you walked down Renshaw Street? Council "planning" has turned what was once one of Liverpool's proud major thoroughfares into a clogged, narrow bottleneck for those who attempt to drive or take a bus or taxi along it. As I said above, this city must have money to burn!

TomSeptember 1st 2009.

I'm glad I don't appear to live in the same city as the author or anyone else who's posted here so far! I love the design of the new Ferry Terminal, it's modern, striking and yet holds it's own amongst the three graceful giants which sit proudly behind it. Most of the people posting here would have opposed the Liver Buildings when they were first proposed! I'm glad I live in a bold, ambitious and revitalised city, with architecture to match.

michelleSeptember 1st 2009.

So Tom is a psychic! You couldn't give me this weeks lottery numbers, could you?

The authorSeptember 1st 2009.

Ahem! Did I say I didn't like the ferry terminal? No, sir.

scrittipolittiSeptember 1st 2009.

I'm in Tom's city. Most of the posts here could have come from Prince Charles rather than Princes Park.

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2009.

Have you see the view from the new museum on the icliverpool website after the handover to the museums's last night? FAB, we'll all be there with our noses pressed up against the glass, when the let us in!!

Prince CharlesOctober 21st 2014.

I have heard heard rumours that the Dock Road has had to be closed because panels from that badly-stacked pile of shoeboxes called 'The Unity Building' are blowing off in the wind. Is it true? Panels fell off the infamous Black Coffins at Mann Island last year. To think that they knocked down solid, centuries-old buildings to throw up these expensive jerry-built horrors that are falling apart already. I hope they land on the bell-ends from RIBA.

1 Response: Reply To This...
PC49October 21st 2014.

True: www.merseyside.police.uk/…/…

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