Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: The monstrous carbuncle
Rhodri Marsden is the Technology Columnist for The Independent; he has also written about crumpets, Captain Beefheart, rude place names and string. He's also a musician who plays in the band Scritti Politti, and won the under-10 piano category at the 1980 Watford Music Festival by playing a piece called "Silver Trumpets" with verve and aplomb.
Saturday 31 May 2014
* Thirty years ago this morning, Britain began its relationship with the phrase "monstrous carbuncle". The previous night, Prince Charles had delivered a speech at Hampton Court Palace to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). He seized the opportunity to compare the proposed extension to the National Gallery to what Webster's describes as "a very painful acute local inflammation of subcutaneous tissue".
* The "monstrous carbuncle" itself was meant to occupy space that had been vacant since Hampton's department store was flattened by a bomb in 1940. It was designed by Ahrends, Burton & Koralek, and was submitted along with 78 other entries as part of a competition. Following an exhibition of the designs, ABK made a shortlist of seven – along with Richard Rogers, who later explained the inherent problem. "Thatcher insisted that the extension be paid for by private development," he said. "A commercial building had to fit on the site." ABK's vision included a 92-foot glass tower of offices.
* ABK was announced as the winner in October 1982 on the condition that changes were made to its design, but they nevertheless felt that the firm "had the best chance of designing a successful building". The new design was given the green light – but Charles turned it red. The following year a new, closed competition was launched with an office-less brief, thanks largely to a £50m donation from the Sainsbury family. The winner, by Robert Venturi, opened in 1991.
* Shortly after Charles's speech, Peter Ahrends invited him to ABK's office to discuss, among other things, the monstrous carbuncle. In an interview with the Islington Tribune, Ahrends recalled Charles saying, as he left, "I'm sorry it had to be you".
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This is what the one in ten British men who pay for sex need to know
- 2 Lee Evans announces retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 3 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Angelina Jolie confuses everyone with 'ay up me duck' East Midland's greeting to Derby actor Jack O'Connell at awards show
Lee Evans announces retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Willow and Jaden Smith talk duality of apples, holographic realities and the melancholia of the ocean in incredible New York Times interview
Winnie the Pooh banned from Polish playground for being an 'inappropriate hermaphrodite'
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie confirmed to enter jungle
Drawn Blank: Bob Dylan exhibition showcases the musician's bold and vibrant paintings
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
G20 summit: David Cameron warns Vladimir Putin that Russia's relationship with the West is at a 'fork in the road' over Ukraine
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
Coalition government has 'shifted money from poorest to better-off' through welfare cuts and tax reductions, study claims