walkie talkie
Commuters cross Waterloo Bridge in sight of the Walkie Talkie building in London Getty

The Walkie-Talkie at 20 Fenchurch Street, has unanimously won the Carbuncle Cup by Building Design magazine for the worst building of the year.

The magazine said that it received multiple nominations for the building, with many readers saying that there was no point continuing to run new nominations as the Walkie Talkie was bound to win.

Thomas Lane, the editor of Building Design said: "It bulges out towards the top in a cynical move to maximise the amount of high-value space at the upper levels, in defiance of the principle of tall buildings should taper elegantly inwards or at least feature parallel sides."

"The result is Londoners now have to suffer views of this bloated carbuncle," he said.

He was not alone in his scathing views. Judge Ike Ijeh described the building as a "gratuitous glassy gargoyle graffitied onto the skyline of London. Fellow panelist Eleanor Jolliffe said the building was a "Bond villain tower as it could melt your car with a solar beam from space."

The building had been infamous for melting cars when in 2013, sunlight reflected off its concave glass exterior melted parts of a Jaguar sports car. It has also blistered painted shopfronts and singed carpets, with temperatures hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement.

The magazine said the Walkie Talkie had to be retrofitted with horizontal fins to diffuse the sun's rays.

That is not all. High winds at the base of the building have prompted official wind assessments and its three-storey sky gardens have been described as bland and like being in an airport terminal.

The Guardian was no less biting in its comments. Oliver Wainwright writes: "From the South Bank, it squats straight ahead like a misplaced pint glass, blotting out its elegant neighbours. From further east, its silhouette is reminiscent of a sanitary towel, flapping behind Tower Bridge.

The paper said that the design was a costly mistake, requiring the addition of sun shading, which the building architect Rafael Vinoly maintained were part of the original design but were "value engineered" out of the scheme.

Guardian noted that Vinoly had designed a hotel in Las Vegas with a similar concave facade that scorched sunbathers' hair and melted poolside loungers.

The other six buildings shortlisted for the Carbuncle Cup 2015 are:

  • Parliament House in Lambeth by Keith Williams Architects;
  • City Gateway, Swaythling in Southampton by Fluid Design;
  • YMCA, Waltham Forest by Robert Kilgour Architects;
  • A student housing complex Woodward Hall in North Acton by Careyjones Chapmantolcher; and
  • Whittle building, Peterhouse in Cambridge University by John Simpson Architects.