The first buildings in a £375m development to overhaul the centre of Lewisham have been branded among the ugliest in the country by an architecture magazine, with judges describing them as “bland and boxy”.
Lewisham Gateway’s residential towers made their way on to a shortlist for Building Design magazine’s Carbuncle Cup alongside the Haydn Tower in Vauxhall and an energy efficient house in south London’s Streatham.
They are part the first phase of Lewisham Gateway – a huge redevelopment in the centre of the town which will ultimately include shops, bars and cafes, a park and a new town square.
The ambitious project which began in 2014 will end with a complete redesign of the borough’s notorious traffic gyratory, and also the re-routing of two previously hidden London rivers – the Ravensbourne and the Quaggy.
A statement from the council said that the towers – dubbed Building A – “comprises two blocks (25 and 15 storeys) providing 193 new homes, along with ground-floor shops and restaurants/cafes”.
Another two buildings are under construction for phase two, which is expected to be complete by 2021.
Thomas Lane, editor of Building Design, said: “Together they embody all the lazy belligerence that sadly characterises the vast majority of tall residential blocks in the capital and they appear as curiously dislodged outposts from south London’s other mecca of high-rise regeneration mediocrity, Croydon.”
“Bland, boxy and with some vaguely indeterminate delinquent menace, the towers currently stand like a sneering street gang of four upturned middle fingers dumbly primed to hurl all manner of townscape obscenities at their unsuspecting environs.”
Lewisham Gateway’s design was conceived by architectural firm PRP, and is a collaboration between Lewisham Council, the Greater London Authority, Transport for London and developer Lewisham Gateway Developments Limited.
Commenting on a post for the Lewisham Gateway, which was featured in the Carbuncle Cup’s website, a reader lamented on the rising number of skyscrapers in the borough. They wrote: “You can blame what has happened in Lewisham on a number of things. The pressure from the London Plan to hit housing numbers is one of them. And the borough’s inability to develop their own proposals for social housing.”
PRP Architects and Lewisham Council were approached for comment but have yet to respond.
London tops the Building Design list with three nominations. Other buildings include a leisure centre in Stockport, Greater Manchester, the Shankly Hotel in Liverpool and Beckly Point, student housing in Plymouth.