They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but a joint consensus in the UK has placed Melbourne architectural icon Federation Square on the list of “21 of the ugliest buildings ever designed and built.”
The highly-stylised piece of architecture isn’t even at the bottom of the list, which is produced by London’s Daily Telegraph. It sits as the eight-ugliest building in the world.
Also included on the list is the commonly-agreed-upon eyesore the Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea, the Mirador Building in Madrid and Ohio’s self-descriptive Longaberger Basket Company. Topping the list as the world’s most unattractive building is Italy’s Torre Velasca, a mushroom-shaped site in Milan.
While many in the industry may be shocked by the dubious title bestowed upon Federation Square, not the least of whom are its designers Don Bates and Peter Davidson, there are those who will not be surprised by its inclusion on the list. The building also made the list of “World’s Top 10 Ugly Buildings” in 2009 on VirtualTourist.com.
“People were rushing to judgments and these were both people who were not experienced, but also architects and teachers and professors were all condemning Fed Square because it didn’t look like the thing that they would have done or they were used to,” says Davidson.
However, there can be no denying the architectural icon’s drawing power, as it received nine million visitors last year alone. In fact, former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett used Melbourne’s position as a tourist-attracting city as a tongue in cheek retort to the Daily Telegraph.
“If (the Daily Telegraph) do have representatives who tour the world to look at buildings, give them my number,” said Kennett on radio station 3AW. “I’d be very pleased to escort them around some of the wonderful buildings that we have in Melbourne which together combine to make a wonderfully cosmopolitan city.”
The fact is, however disliked it may have been when it was first built, Federation square is now a member of the Melbourne architectural cohort and a recognisable symbol in the city’s skyline. It is this sense of familiarity, explains Davidson, that helps ensure Fed square is accepted by Melbournians.
“It is not an alien, it is part of the city,” he says.