Saturday, March 26, 2016

Carbuncles and silly names

click photo to enlarge
The right-most of the two new buildings in today's photograph was a 2015 nominee for the Carbuncle Cup,an architectural prize awarded by the UK's "Building Design" magazine to "the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months." It didn't win, and wasn't even short-listed, because last year it faced severe competition. The winner was, in my opinion, the ugliest building erected in the UK so far this century, and probably in the past fifty years - Rafael Vinoly's 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as "The Walkie Talkie".

If there was a prize for the silliest name for a building then the angular monstrosity shown in today's post would surely have won. It is a hotel in the Shoreditch/Hoxton area of London, near "silicon roundabout" and is called, M by Montcalm Hotel. Why do I dislike this building? Well, it defaces the area in which it stands by acknowledging nothing around it, not even the banal new block next door, an essay in what looks like 1930s Moderne-cum-very stripped classical, that matches it for height. The hotel's sharp points, sloping windows and decorative cladding all seem designed to grab the eye, provoke reaction, say "look at me", and nothing else. The absence of right angles in the elevations seems to be worn like a badge of pride, a feature designed to make passers-by feel that either they or the building is falling over. It's a cheap trick that lacks reason, one that quickly becomes tiresome and provokes a "so what" response.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: M by Montcalm Hotel, Shoreditch, London
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 22mm (44mm - 35mm equiv.) crop
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/640 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On