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Two years ago the Cutty Sark visitor centre opened to the public. It was built following a fire in 2007 that seriously damaged the old sailing ship. The Cutty Sark is one of the best known and loved of Britain's nineteenth century sailing ships. It was built by Scott & Linton on the Clyde in 1869, one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest too. The opening of the Suez Canal and the advent of steam ships meant that the work for which it was built soon ended and the carrying of wool from Australia became her main task.
Clearly there are benefits to the display of the ship by having the new covered space. However, there is one very big disadvantage that critics have seized on and that is that the ship as a whole cannot be seen in one view - the top and bottom can only be viewed separately. This prevents the beautiful, sleek lines of the Cutty Sark from being seen, and it is this, as much as anything else that has provoked an intense dislike of the new facilities. In fact, so widespread is the disapproval of the visitor centre - it has been likened to a bus shelter! - that it was the recipient of the Carbuncle Cup in 2012. This award, made by the magazine, "Building Design", is for the "the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months". I think the building has serious drawbacks but I'm not entirely sure it deserved such disapprobation. Why? Well, the space created beneath ship is quite spectacular, and though it doesn't make up for the loss of a complete view of the ship, is enough I think to disqualify the project from consideration for UK architecture's "unaward".
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/30 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On