The ugliest building in London

We stumbled across this beauty on Saturday afternoon. It is, without doubt, the ugliest building in London. I suppose you could call it Soviet-chic; the heavy concrete bunker-look is quite sexy. The bizarre thing is the separated elevator shaft. Rather than supporting the core of the building like most elevators, this one is stranded out to the left, with only intermittent connecting bridges to the main structure. I think it looks like  guard tower!


A vote has been cast for the also-ugly East Mall Apartments in East Liberty, famous home of urban renewal gone wrong in Pittsburgh:

East Mall Apartments (deceased)

This odd choice to build public housing at the edge of four-lane, one-way semi-freeways effectively shut off the business district in the middle from the rest of the city (except for the holes punched in the bottom to allow the street to go through).  Happily, this building and its  nearby siblings were demolished in 2005!  Hopefully the city did a good job relocating residents, but this has been a big part of the transformation occurring in this area (known colloquially as ” ‘Sliberty”).

With regard to the “ugliest building in London,” Wikipedia comes to the rescue again:

In perhaps a telling cultural difference, this building is, rather than a demolition candidate, a “listed building,” which means that it is protected from changes due to its special significance (usually historical or cultural).  However, this building has mostly been “council housing” for most of its existence, which is the happy-sounding British code phrase for public housing.  So, at least my impressions and first-glance appearances aren’t that different!

It is probably important to note here, though, that, in a clear sign of the American disposable approach vs. the British/European reuse approach, many council housing “projects” here are sold or converted to “regular” housing.  While no one in the US would ever dream of signing up to live in former public housing, here it quite often happens; in fact, we were offered some “ex-council” places in our flat search, although none worked out in the end (not in the least because of my American biases).  Anyway, another interesting difference in outlook.


Posted on 22/02/2010, in Exploring the UK, Just a funny, Within London and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Don’t you mean the ‘lift’ tower? 🙂 The building is certainly very eastern-bloc. Maybe you should nickname it the Lift Bloc. When I visited London 10 years ago, we stayed in a hotel across from Earl’s Court, and I remember a building nearby that looked kind of like this one. I don’t remember the separated tower, though. It’s architecture that you don’t often see in the states, though there is that weird building that goes over the road in East Liberty.

  2. I hope the people who choose to live there are happy .. .. ..

  3. Ha! I’ve newly moved to London. I just walked near this tower and thought, “Wow, that is an UGLY building!” I came home and Googled “ugliest building in London” and landed on your entry. Thanks for all the background info!

  1. Pingback: Speaking of Retro, Check Out the Preston Bus Station « Change Here

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