Wednesday, June 21, 2006

London's "Most Hated"


A 19-storey concrete office block which towers over neighbouring Victorian terraces has been voted London's most hated building.

Colliers Wood Tower in south-west London took 52% of 512 email votes sent to BBC London.

The Colliers Wood Tower, a huge black concrete, glass and steel edifice which is largely unused, is no stranger to "most hated" polls.

Last year it came ninth in a national search for nominations for buildings to be razed for the Channel 4 programme Demolition.

Locals have previously voted it the "worst thing about living in Colliers Wood" and it is so imposing, it is said to have strange effects on the weather around it.

One voter, Alan O'Brien, told BBC London: "Apart from its general ugliness, it also creates huge, hurricane-type winds that make the area an umbrella graveyard."

Another, Rebecca Moses, said: "It looks like it survived a nuclear holocaust", while Christine from Mitcham, south-west London, said she despaired every time she passed it.

Respondents also hated the concrete multi-storey car park which sits next to the tower.

Matt Bell, from the Commission for Architecture, said it was not just the tower's
appearance that was a problem - but its effect on the "streetscape".

"This should be the centre of the neighbourhood, but you can tell when they were designing it they were thinking of vehicles first, and people last," he told BBC London.

While many people called for its demolition, the tower's position, above a Tube line, makes it difficult and expensive.

Instead there are plans to knock down the car park and replace it with a new development which will include a library, as well as brightening up the tower itself which will be partly turned into flats.

Merton Council is expecting a planning application within weeks.

It isn't all cycling along the river and Grade II listed children's theatres here, but if they knocked it down, where would the Muay Thai gym go? Come to think of it, having seen Ong-Bak, the Muay Thai club could probably knock the Tower down with their bare hands.

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