Key Liverpool regeneration scheme denounced as ‘UK’s ugliest building’

Ion's Lime Street development

A key regeneration scheme in Liverpool city centre has been named the UK’s ugliest new building and crowned winner of the 2024 Carbuncle Cup.

The modern Lime Street redevelopment, close to Lime Street rail station, replaced a row of businesses and buildings, dating back more than a century, in 2019.

Local developer, Ion, was behind the scheme, designed by British studio Broadway Malyan, which replaced the traditional streetscape – including the iconic Futurist cinema and its Georgian-styled façade – with a sheet-metal development containing etchings of the cinema and bars that previously stood.

At the time, Steve Parry, Ion managing director, said: “It has always been important to us to reflect the roots of Lime Street through this development.

“Lime Street was traditionally a street where entertainment married harmoniously with retail.

“The façade created by Anthony Brown tells the story of the history of the street – from the penny bazaar to the cinemas and the milk bars.

“We want Lime Street to once again become a street that is busy with life, commerce and entertainment.”

However, the Lime Street site was subject to furious protests by campaigners, including Liverpool-born ‘Sex And The City’ TV star Kim Cattrall, angry at the demolition of the original buildings to make room for the new scheme.

A battle to preserve the Futurist, which was opened in 1912, went to the London Court of Appeal.

A public petition to ‘Save the Futurist Cinema’ gathered more than 4,000 signatures.

The Ion scheme was denounced as “monolithic and bleak”.

Now, the Lime Street redevelopment has been named the UK’s ugliest building – from a six-strong shortlist which also included Liverpool’s new Royal Liverpool University Hospital – by property magazine, The Fence.

Announcing the winner, The Fence said: “From the very first viewing, two of our panel had this as their number one selection, and as the longlist was narrowed to a shortlist, this hideous bit of architectural misadventure continued to stick out.

“By the end of the adjudication, everyone was in total agreement – the 2024 Carbuncle Cup goes to Broadway Malyan’s mixed-use redevelopment of Lime Street in Liverpool, opened in January 2019.”

Jury Chair, Tim Abrahams, said: “People aren’t hopeless romantics. Most of us understand that sometimes, buildings need to be knocked down and replaced with better ones.

“This is the nature of dynamic, forward looking cities – things change.

“Here, though, a bunch of developers have been allowed to knock down a happy, eclectic row of buildings – including the much-loved, sorely-missed Futurist cinema – and replaced it with such nothingness, such banality that their only option is to cover it with a screen.

“Upon which, they have drawn portraits of those same old demolished buildings.

“Greed has rarely looked so greedy.

“In a city of architectural wonders, hawkers and vagabonds have tried to mask a reductive square metrage to profit equation with a Joker-like stink bomb of local boosterism and cynical nostalgia. Get, as they used to say in the old days, stuffed.”

One comment from the public nominations said about the Royal Liverpool University Hospital: “It takes some going to actually be worse than the 60s eyesore it replaces, but this island of shite in the middle of the city manages it.”

The 2024 judging panel comprised: Tim Abrahams (chair) – contributing editor, Architectural Record; Vicky Richardson – FRIBA, architectural curator; Cajsa Carlson – deputy editor, Dezeen; James McLachlan – former editor, Icon; Lucy Watson – commissioning editor, Financial Times; Dr Penny Lewis – lecturer, University of Dundee; co-founder of the Carbuncle Awards; Charlie Baker – editor, The Fence.

In 2018, Redrock Stockport, a £45m leisure complex and car park, won the Carbuncle Cup, the trophy no architect ever wants to win.

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