Wooden Spoon

The Milner Street Area Residents’ Association (MISARA) is inaugurating an annual award for the ugliest new building in Chelsea, to be known as the Chelsea Carbuncle. Residents and others will be encouraged to submit nominations for the award and the winner will be chosen by a panel of three distinguished judges: Dr John Martin Robinson, one our best known architectural historians; Will Palin, Director of Conservation at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich; and Anthony Delarue, the award winning church architect. Further details are given below.

MISARA will purchase three wooden spoons as prizes, and will invite representatives of the architects, the developer and the relevant planning officers to their Annual General Meeting in November to collect their prizes (if they attend!). The winner of the first award will be announced in October 2019, so that the first distribution of prizes will occur at their AGM in November 2019. Photographers will be on hand to record the occasion.

Background

There is widespread concern throughout Chelsea about the poor quality of some new buildings and their unsuitability for Chelsea.  Also about the process whereby unsuitable planning applications are recommended for approval by the Council’s officers, and residents’ objections seem to be ignored. In recognition of the problem, the Chelsea Society is considering an annual award for the best new building design. This would be complementary to the initiative by MISARA and we all hope that this will lead to a visible improvement in new buildings in Chelsea over time.

Process

MISARA aim to publicise the competition through the King’s Road Association of Chelsea Residents (KRACR), and the Chelsea Society, and in local and specialist publications. Residents and others will be encouraged to submit candidates for the award by sending photographs of the buildings by email to MISARA, with a cut off date in September of each year.  In the first year the award will not necessarily be restricted to buildings which have been completed during the previous twelve months. The judges will also be at liberty to decide, in any year, that there is no new building sufficiently ugly to merit the award – if this happens it will be good news for Chelsea.

Chelsea

For the purposes of the award Chelsea will be defined as the Stanley, Chelsea Riverside and Royal Hospital wards, plus that part of the new Brompton and Hans Town ward which used to fall within the old Hans Town ward, i.e. south of Walton Street (including the houses on the north side of the street) and Pont Street (excluding the houses on the north side of the street). In the Fulham Road the houses on the south side of the road are included but those on the north side are not.

Acknowledgement

In 2006 Building Design, the specialist weekly magazine widely read by the architectural profession, initiated a popular annual competition for the ugliest new building in the UK, with the winner receiving the Carbuncle Cup. Candidates are submitted by readers across the country and the winner is selected by a panel of judges from a shortlist of six ugly buildings publicised with short descriptions and photographs on the magazine’s website. MISARA are happy to acknowledge this with gratitude as the original inspiration for the Chelsea Carbuncle.

Further details of the judges:

Dr John Martin Robinson is one of Britain’s best known architectural historians. After obtaining a D.Phil at Oxford on the work of architect Samuel Wyatt he worked for the Greater London Council’s Historic Buildings Division as architectural editor of the Survey of London and as Historic Buildings Inspector for Westminster, before setting up his own consultancy on the restoration of historic buildings. His contribution to the Conservation Plan for Seven Dials and Covent Garden won the 1998 Camden Environmental Award. He has written some 30 books, including definitive scholarly studies of James Wyatt and of Francis Johnson, Britain’s last pre-Modernist practising architect. He served for 20 years as a trustee and vice-chairman of the Georgian Group, where he founded and presided over its annual Conservation Awards, and is currently chairman of the Art and Architecture Committee of Westminster Cathedral. He was a patron of Save Sloane Square, which in 2007 won an historic victory to prevent RBK&C from turning Sloane Square into a crossroads.

Will Palin is Director of Conservation at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, Sir Christopher Wren’s riverside masterpiece. After studying History of Architecture at the Courtauld he worked as a caseworker for the Mausolea and Monuments Trust and as Education Officer at the Georgian Group before being appointed Assistant Curator at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. In parallel he lectured and contributed to educational initiatives with a range of organisations such as the Royal Academy and the British Museum, as well as teaching on academic courses. He went on to become Secretary and Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, where in addition to rescuing historic buildings he led a series of legal challenges to demolitions of such buildings including a landmark judgement in the Court of Appeal which led to new controls over demolition of all buildings. He is a regular contributor to Country Life and Building Design and is active on the lecture circuit and in running architectural tours for the Ancient Monuments Society and other conservation organisations.

Anthony Delarue is a distinguished church architect. He studied architecture at Edinburgh and as a John Kinross Scholar at the Royal Scottish Academy. After six years with Peter Ednie and Partners he set up his own private practice. He has exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Institute of British Architects and participated in the Real Architecture Exhibition in 1988. He sat for some 20 years on Islington Council’s Conservation Advisory Committee and (from 2003) on Camden Council’s King’s Cross Conservation Area Committee. Four of his buildings have received awards, including (for the Church of Corpus Christi, Tring) the Brick Development Association’s 2001 award for best craftsmanship in the UK. His restoration of St Joseph’s Church, Hertford, was described as “a work of remarkable beauty” in Parish Churches of Greater London (Hodges, 2015). He is a member of the RIBA Traditional Architecture Group and is currently the architect of the development of the Catholic national shrine at Walsingham.

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