Cutty Sark wins
Carbuncle Cup 2012


Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

News: Grimshaw architects' steel and glass cocoon containing the historic Cutty Sark tea clipper has been named the ugliest new building in the UK, with a juror describing it as "the final death of High-Tech as a design language worthy of respect."

The London architects led the restoration of the historic vessel, raising it three metres above its dry dock to create an exhibition hall below.

The project won Building Design magazine's Carbuncle Cup ahead of five other shortlisted buildings, including the Titanic Belfast museum and the ArcellorMittal Orbit at the Olympic Park.

"The Cutty Sark scheme represents an outlay of £50 million of largely public money and has mutilated one of the world’s most significant historic ships," said BD's exectutive editor Ellis Woodman, one the judges.

Columnist Owen Hatherley was also on the judging panel and said "the worst thing about it is the glass pool into which the ship is plunged, and the infantile raising of the ship beneath. It offers more 'wow' to the paying spectator, but while before a passer-by could look at the ship, now they have it blocked by this clumsy, faceted glass bulge. It's the final death of High-Tech as a design language worthy of respect."

See more images of the Cutty Sark in our earlier story »


  • Waney Edge

    This Carbuncle Cup nonsense is so mean spirited. To quote Mackintosh, "There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist".

  • Max

    Whoever commented “the final death of High-Tech as a design language worthy of respect” highlights the kind of old school idiots on the jury who obviously don’t understand the importance that these technologies have in the industry.

  • Rob

    I can understand aesthetic critiques and different tastes, but to slip something like “the final death of High-Tech as a design language worthy of respect”, is idiotic. The technology is what saved architecture from clutches of styles, and all the other guys like Foster, Rogers, Renzo Piano contributed to that.

    • John Ryde

      What are these fools talking about? The Cutty Sark isn’t a building. At the time of her construction she was the most innovative sailing ship the world had ever seen. Most of that innovation is in the design of her hull. Giving the visitor the opportunity to walk below her and inspect the wonderful technology is inspired.

  • William Hathaway

    “Cutty Sark visitors ‘more than double’ after £50m restoration”

    It obviously did something right! Architects need to remember architecture is for all society not just for other architects