News / Architecture

A leisure centre in Stockport is officially the UK’s worst architectural eyesore

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What comes to mind when you’re asked to think about Stockport? Maybe it’s the fact that the dulcet tones of broadcaster Joan Bakewell were shaped by the town, or the fact that former NBA star John Amaechi grew up there. Perhaps the very mention of the word sends you into a slobbering wreck, writhing with pleasure over memories of memorable meals eaten at the much raved about Where The Light Gets In. Whatever it is, that’s all about to change, as the Greater Manchester town has a new claim to fame.

Stockport is now officially home to the UK’s most heinous architectural eyesore. Well, according to the panel responsible for dishing out this year’s Carbuncle Cup, the ‘prize’ given to particularly grim examples of architecture gone wrong.

As we reported last week, Stockport leisure centre Redrock – a town centre complex where you can while away a Saturday by stuffing yourself silly at Zizzi before working off the pasta in the on-site gym, before tucking into a trough of popcorn at The Light, a cinema which proudly boasts of stocking ales, pies, and cakes from various independent producers from Stockport – found itself competing with a gyratory system in Lewisham, and a student-residence skyscraper in Plymouth for the prize no architect wants.

The prize’s founders, Building Design magazine objected to Redrock on the grounds that it is “essentially a series of boring boxes jazzed up with arbitrary angles and garish cladding totally out of keeping with the local area.”

Designed by the firm, BDP, who are currently overseeing the £4bn rejig of the Houses of Parliament, the complex is one of bulky zones of commercial activity that run up and down the spine of the UK. This uniformity seems to have annoyed the judges, who state that, “The fact that there are multiple examples of this kind of garish, soul-less leisure shed architecture in UK towns doesn’t let Redrock off the hook: it puts more of those responsible for our built environment in the dock.”

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A render of what Redrock could have been

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Redrock’s reality