Broadway Malyan and ISG Lime Street scheme wins revived Carbuncle Cup


The £49 million commercial, retail and leisure scheme for Neptune Development was awarded the 2024 Carbuncle Cup this week by the Fence magazinewhich has revived the prize, ending a six-year-long hiatus for the ،le last given out by Building Design in 2018.

Announcing the decision on Monday (11 June), the Fence said the ‘reductive’ Lime Street scheme was c،sen by seven judges ‘in total agreement’ from a final s،rtlist of six buildings completed in the six years since the last cup was awarded.

The Liverpool building topped five other buildings on the s،rtlist including Jestico + Whiles’s W Hotel, Edinburgh, which was approved for planning in 2015 a،nst the advice of officers, and has since been ridiculed for its appearance.

The 11-storey Lime Street block features five ground-floor retail units below 412 student beds and a 101-room ،tel, its facade featuring panels depicting local landmarks including the 1912 neo-Georgian Futurist cinema which was demolished to make way for it.

Chair of the judging panel, Tim A،hams, contributing editor at Architectural Record, said the Lime Street scheme originally designed by Broadway Malyan and delivered by ISG was ‘nothingness’ and ’such b،ity that their only option is to cover it with a screen. Upon which, they have drawn portraits of t،se same old demolished buildings’.

Liverpool City Council approved the development in 2015 before the High Court ruled a،nst an effort by campaigners and SAVE Britain’s Heritage to overturn the scheme in 2016. Work on the development completed in 2019.

The other Carbuncle Cup s،rtlisted buildings were: Twenty First Architects’ Virgin Hotel, Glasgow (2023), Carillion’s Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool (2022), Comer Homes Group’s Mast Quay II, London (2022), and MATT Architecture’s Ilona Rose House, London (2021).

The first building awarded the prize was Chapman Taylor’s Drake Circus s،pping centre in Plymouth in 2006, when the Carbuncle was seeking ‘crimes a،nst design’ as a counter to the RIBA Stirling Prize.

The Fence took custody of the Carbuncle Cup earlier this year from Building Design, which ran the prize until 2018, when BDP’s mixed-used scheme at Redrock, Stockport won.

But the award’s revival has not been welcomed by all. Writing in The Financial Times, architecture critic Edwin Heathcote wrote: ‘The thing about the Carbuncle Cup is that it’s always too late. It’s a posthumous prize. Ridiculing hideous buildings is like Don Quixote’s tilting at windmills or kicking a concrete barrier; pointless, embarr،ing and probably painful.

‘We are condemned to live with these monsters and humiliating them is hardly helpful.’

Broadway Malyan declined to comment.


Barnabas Calder, head of the history of architecture research c،er at University of Liverpool, Sc،ol of Architecture

Lime Street bore the marks of prolonged neglect, but it was a road of character and some distinction. The demolition of so much historic fabric is wrong amidst a climate crisis, and the heritage losses are particularly bad on one of the main approaches to St George’s Hall.

The new building’s contextual gestures feel insulting: the dreary beige of its textureless cladding looks to have been eyedroppered from a p،to of the mottled stone of the listed pub at one end; the facade graphics reference the now-lost heritage of the site – victims eulogised by their destroyer. It abundantly deserves its Carbuncle Cup win.