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Belfast buildings in running for ugliness trophy

Three Belfast sites have been nominated in a competition to find the UK’s ugliest building.

The Obel complex, St Anne’s Square and The Boat are all in the running for the Carbuncle Cup run by Building Design, a weekly newspaper for architects.

The publication’s website asked readers to nominate buildings in the UK completed in the last year which they found “fiendishly ugly”.

A shortlist will be drawn up later this month and the ‘winner’ will be announced in August.

The landmark buildings, which are all well-known features on the city’s growing skyline, have variously been described as “a neo-classical pastiche mess”, “an oversized blank gable wall” and “a south facing glazed oven”.

Saint Anne’s Square came in for most criticism. In the heart of the Cathedral Quarter, it is a £100m leisure, commercial and residential development.

Reader Ian called the structure “a neo-classical pastiche mess” with “building services that stick out like a sore thumb on the roof and is totally out of proportion with the existing built form”.

Another contributor, Neil, added: “This is a major development right beside St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, on a main approach to the city from the north. The building sits in a very important part of Belfast’s City Centre Regeneration area, and this is the best statement of how the city is to emerge.

“There was a feeling of dread |in the city as the superstructure emerged in a steel frame then |as if by magic, some quaint |little brick arches appeared from nowhere, four storeys up!” Next in the firing line is The Boat building at Custom House Square, which nominator Ursula says could be a nod to the city’s traditional architecture, rather than its maritime history.

The 15-floor, £5m building |will be a mixture of offices with residential accommodation including eight penthouses on the upper floors, a restaurant and underground basement parking.

“Right next to the city’s beautiful and historic Custom House building. It’s called ‘Boat’. Belfast is known for its blank gable walls but this is certainly an oversized one!” she said.

While the Obel building at Donegall Quay promises to be the tallest building in Belfast, some commentators are less than impressed.

The 81-metre tall tower contains 26 floors of residential space comprising over 200 apartments, studios, duplexes and penthouses as well as thousands of square feet of office accommodation.

Neil again gets his claws out to describe the landmark tower as: “The latest addition to Belfast’s skyline by Broadway Malyan.

“This is understood to be the tallest building in Ireland. It greets its main street frontage with a confused sub-barcode that meets an uncomfortable lump of clad stone, that emerges in a south-|facing glazed oven.”

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