The aerial view of Newport Railway Station is reminiscent of "giant gleaming set of ovaries". Credit: Network Rail

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The 10 ugliest buildings in the world

Dark, gloomy and cave-like, that's how Des McNulty, chair of Glasgow’s Festival of Architecture and Design, describes the entrance to the Scottish Parliament. We analyse why this and other buildings are considered the ugliest on the planet.

ISABEL RUBIO ARROYO | Tungsteno

 

From the narrowest buildings in the world to the tallest and the most original. These are some of the iconic structures we have already talked about in Tungsteno. Now we investigate the ugliest, including the Scottish Parliament Building, according to Buildworld’s analysis of Twitter user comments. Also on the list are the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington D.C., Newport railway station in the UK, and the Ryugyong Hotel skyscraper in North Korea.

 

Scottish Parliament Building

In the words of former MP and chair of Glasgow’s Festival of Architecture and Design, Des McNulty, the entrance to the Scottish Parliament Building is "dark and gloomy". This is, in theory, accentuated by Edinburgh's typically damp, cold climate. "It feels like a cave," he says. The structure, which opened in 2004 and has been criticised for looking out of place in the Scottish landscape, tops Buildworld's list of the world's ugliest buildings, with 42% of tweets about it criticising its design. Its construction was plagued by continuous delays and complications and its final cost ballooned to ten times over budget.

The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh has been criticised for not fitting into the Scottish landscape. Credit: Scottish Parliament

 

The J. Edgar Hoover Building

The second ugliest building in the world according to Buildworld is the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington D.C., which houses the headquarters of the FBI. More than a third of tweets about it are negative. Some people find the giant concrete structure "cold, unwelcoming and almost dystopian". One TripAdvisor user described it as a "scary building with a strange energy". As Buildworld puts it, "it's not pretty, but there's a certain Minecraft-y charm about this brutalist blocky monolith".

The J. Edgar Hoover building houses the FBI headquarters. Credit: cisko66

 

Newport Railway Station

Some people think Newport Railway Station looks like "a sci-fi snail shell" and that seen from the sky it looks like "a giant gleaming set of ovaries", according to Buildworld. The structure, which was built in 2010 and has recently become the second busiest railway station in Wales, is the third ugliest building on the planet. "Newport is an old town, and I know they are trying their best to change it, but this was not suitable for the town and uninviting," said Newport resident James Wall after learning the results of Buildworld's analysis.

Newport station is the second busiest railway station in Wales. Credit: Pwimageglow

 

Ryugyong Hotel

Nicknamed the "Hotel of Doom" and located in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, the Ryugyong Hotel is a pyramid-shaped reinforced concrete skyscraper that is 105 storeys high and over 300 metres tall. Its construction began in 1987 and wasn’t completed until 2018. Its nickname comes from a 16-year construction pause during which it loomed over the city, unfinished and windowless. Although it was designed to house at least 3,000 rooms and five revolving restaurants with panoramic views, it never opened and in 1992 was abandoned in the wake of the country's economic collapse. It is one of the tallest unoccupied buildings on the planet and the ugliest building outside the UK and US.

The Ryugyong Hotel was nicknamed the "Hotel of Doom". Credit: Roman Harak

 

Nine of the world’s 10 ugliest buildings are in the US or UK, according to Buildworld. They also include Boston City HallPreston Railway Station, the Verizon Building, the Watergate ComplexDenver International Airport and Trump Tower. To compile the list, Buildworld selected buildings around the world that are often considered ugly and identified tweets that talked about their design. It then used a sentiment analysis tool from Hugging Face to analyse the percentage of negative messages about each.

A big, ugly building represents many of the frustrations that ordinary people (and other Twitter users) love to vent about, from wasted public funds to misguided city halls. As a spokesperson for Buildworld told the Edinburgh Evening News, "the worst thing that can happen to an architect is to be ignored. For many architects and developers, being boring is a greater sin than being ugly. But when a building turns out ugly, it’s the passers-by who pay the price, locals and tourists alike."

 

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Tungsteno is a journalism laboratory to scan the essence of innovation.

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