Built on excellence: 'erotic gherkin' and Manchester's new sports stadium win places in architecture's top ten

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The new home of Manchester City Football Club was named yesterday as one of the top ten architectural success stories of the year.

The City of Manchester Stadium hosted last year's Commonwealth Games before being converted for the Premiership side. It earned plaudits along with the Swiss-Re Tower, the City of London skyscraper designed by Lord Foster that has become better known as the erotic gherkin.

But the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe), which compiled the top 10 for its annual report, said there remained a hangover from a "bad patch" in the 1980s and 90s, with only about 200 "excellent" new projects built in the year.

The number of highly acclaimed new buildings represented less than five per cent of the total, according to the organisation. It said most new buildings and created spaces were at best mediocre. "Too many clients opt for the lowest cost, lowest risk option. We hope to turn this around by both influencing the current planning system and encouraging consumers to demand more," said the chairman of Cabe, Sir Stuart Lipton.

In contrast, some of Britain's architects are among the most highly-prized in the world. Cabe said it was up to the people commissioning new structures to make use of the talent.

In Cabe's annual report, the Winter Gardens in Sheffield, a glass-covered area of parkland, and the Centre for Mathematical Science in Cambridge, which features four pavilions and a grass roof, also win places in the top ten.

Other success stories include Gateshead's Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts, housed in a 1950s grain warehouse on the south bank of the River Tyne, the glazed Bournemouth Library and the aluminium-coated Imperial War Museum North in Manchester.

The award-winning Abode housing scheme in Harlow, Essex, the Jubilee School in Brixton, south London, which features a "living roof" of plants, and the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, Cornwall, with its underwater views , also made the top ten.

Sir Stuart said: "Despite an economic downturn, we have seen a host of great buildings, spaces and places completed in the last 12 months, and many promising new proposals have come forward."

He said the public appetite for exciting contemporary architecture appeared to be growing but he also warned against complacency.