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".
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Kurt Cobain's life and death: Montage of Heck film uses unseen footage to tell Nirvana frontman's story
Mal Peet dead at 67: Tributes to children's author who was 'universally adored'
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Drugs Live: Twitter responds to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'