2016 has staggered out of the room, clutching its brown brew in a fuzzy pink beer cozy and holding in any temptation to puke on the lime green shag carpeting. If nothing it served as the year of the meme, the year of the emails that wouldn’t disappear nor materialize, the year of making America great again, and a year that claimed way too many of our icons and heroes. In the design world, there were some trends that bubbled up to the surface of the muck and wouldn’t go away. There were some ideas that seemed great on paper and well… Then there were the trends that even irked Bob Vila. So without being too much of a Debbie Downer, here are a few more reasons why 2016 ultimately sucked.
Worst Building of 2016
The Lincoln Plaza in London has the not so prestigious honor of being named 2016’s worst new building. Something akin to the Razzies for worst actors and films, each year a short list is generated of the UK’s worst buildings of the year otherwise known as the Carbuncle Cup. But only one will stand atop the dungheap of newly erected skyscrapers and cultural centers and state commissioned works as the most dreadful piece of carbon fibre-mesh-concrete-recycled-building-material dredged up. From a distance it looks like a long Jenga tower awaiting its next player to precariously remove one of the jutting blocks. Unfortunately what it really is is a residential complex that sits near Canary Wharf. Two towers connect, housing 100 stories of flats furnished with SMEG kitchens and chic design elements. Couple that with a hotel brand that interconnects the two towers. But remember kids, it’s not your ugly exterior that counts, it’s those red vintage SMEG refrigerators on the inside that count. Still not turned off? Real estate starts at 845,000 British pounds.
Worst Urban Planning Design Idea
We’re quite conflicted on this one. The idea of micro housing to combat the swelling scourge of the housing crisis is an honorable one. How it’s been carried out on some points of the globe however is a worrying one. Look no further than the Big Apple to get a good look at what micro-apartments will usher into the new year. Design firm nArchitects is responsible for erecting a series of apartments that range in size from 250 to 370 square feet. Carmel Place is a nine story building with 55 apartment units to its modular frame. It promises to tackle the affordable housing crisis head on, as legions of New Yorkers clamor to strategically pack their furnishings and belongings into a cubby hole of a space as if they’re built of Legos. We kid. It’s a forward-thinking design. But are mega metropolises like New York ready to push stubbornly into further population overload?
Worst Design Philosophy
“Social cleansing” has become that hot button term often heard spouted during debates that also include tangles about populism, the far right, globalization and a host of other ideologies that have arisen as part of a political sea change sweeping across Europe and the United States. But in the design world, it’s never been quite so damning nor surprising as it was when Zaha Hadid Architects partner Patrik Schumacher addressed an unwitting crowd in Berlin for the World Architecture Festival and began to rail against public housing and social programs. According to Schumacher, the best of London real estate shouldn’t be relegated to public housing but to those that can afford the best. Such a thing as public art schools and shared housing for over 50s (have a look at London’s older co-housing community) would be dropkicked into oblivion if he had his way. And it wasn’t a sentiment unique to Schumacher. The idea of privatizing cities is catching on.