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Australia’s ugliest buildings: Worst eyesores in Australia

They’re the eyesores only a designer could love.

And if Miley Cyrus came in like a wrecking ball and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet had his way, they would be gone.

After declaring the old White Bay power station should be demolished last week, Mr Perrottet created a tongue-in-cheek list to stir the pot some more by detailing which Sydney buildings should be knocked down.

Mr Perrottet’s comments about the station attracted controversy after he called it a “shocking building” and a “rave cave”.

In his opinion piece, titled Ten iconic buildings I’d bulldoze – which actually includes a Melbourne landmark as well, Mr Perrottet said we don’t give architecture the passionate debate it deserves.

What ugly buildings would you knock down? Share your thoughts in the comment section below

“Many (buildings) are scars from the architectural establishment’s obsession with utilitarianism, wherein form follows function, and creativity is all about what shocks, jags and juxtaposes,” he wrote.

His list of “buildings whose reduction to rubble would make Sydney a more beautiful city” comprises the Blues Point Tower, anything Brutalist, including the UTS Tower, the Annexure to Land and Property Information Building, Hospital Road Courthouse, Cahill Expressway; MLC Centre, Greenway Apartments, Sydney Aquarium, RBA Building, Martin Place and Federation Square, Melbourne.

Another UTS building has also made the world’s ugliest list.

Australia’s governor-general Peter Cosgrove introduced it as “the most beautiful squashed brown paper bag I’ve ever seen” at its opening ceremony.

It was Frank Gehry’s first project in Australia, inspired by a mashup of Sydney architecture and a treehouse, and described as “the building so ugly, it has to wear a paper bag”.

Architect Penelope Seidler said Mr Perrottet’s attack on Blues Point Tower was “unoriginal”.

“If there were other buildings near it would not arouse comment, it was there before the Opera House,” she said.

When it comes to current designs, Sydneysiders are most critical of what’s been dubbed as “Packer’s Pecker”.

The name describes James Packer’s new Crown Casino building at Barangaroo.

Commentator Peter FitzSimons said he started out hating it for being completely out of scale but he had come to love it.

RELATED: Five Sydney building shockers worth a Miley Cyrus-sized wrecking ball

But it wouldn’t be fair to single Sydney out and all Aussies know of an ugly building or city in their state. There’s even been polls created to find them. Here are some of the most prominent:

THE GOLD COAST

Anyone on the Gold Coast would know the long troubled, derelict 1857 Gold Coast Highway site which thankfully has been demolished.

The building, which had been vandalised, invaded by squatters, daubed with graffiti and sat behind a chain-link fence, occupied a prime beachside highway spot and became one of the Glitter Strip’s most controversial eyesores.

In recent times a new building called Pacific Palm Beach on 23rd Ave has been labelled “breathtaking in its awfulness”.

The Gold Coast Bulletin reported it has been compared to a bunker, a car park, and most popularly, a jailhouse.

And no one could forget the old Gold Coast Hospital, which was probably the city’s ugliest building until it was demolished.

Several famous Gold Coast buildings have been knocked down in favour of something new.

BRISBANE

The Gold Coast’s northern cousin has its fair share of eyesores.

Let’s face it, it’s a pretty ugly city in general. Apparently not as bad as Darwin, though we’ll get to that later.

Thankfully Brisbane’s ugliest buildings have also been torn down, including the Queensland University of Technology’s infamous Gardens Point L Block.

Most recently, the rundown Brisbane Transit Centre has been demolished to be replaced by the new Cross River Rail station.

It was described by Transport Minister Mark Bailey as “one of the ugliest buildings in Brisbane”.

When it comes to newer buildings, former premier Campbell Newman, when he was Lord Mayor, declared George St’s Brisbane Square building “not my cup of tea”.

The 37-storey tower has a colourful toy-box base and drainpipe-clad exterior.

MELBOURNE

In 2012 an article in The Age asked architects for their ugliest building suggestions.

Richard Kerr labelled a South Yarra apartment building “simply brainless” and described a Cremorne office block as “what happens when a dog throws up over the designer’s paper and they simply print it for construction!”

Maggie Edmond said the colourful Pixel building was “silly beyond belief”, however many like it.

The Web Urbanist said the building was like wrapping an ugly gift in colourful paper.

Mr Perrottet isn’t the only one to pick on Melbourne’s Federation Square, which was a controversial piece of architecture when it was built in 2002.

Architectural historian Rohan Storey told the ABC, “By the time it was finished, some Melburnians thought it was a horror, thought it was appalling and the worst thing they’d ever seen”.

But he said even one of the city’s most iconic buildings was once considered hideous.

“In the 1970s Flinders St Station was considered ugly, dirty, crowded, outmoded and not a good work of architecture,” he said.

ADELAIDE

In 2017 an “ugly” new building being constructed in Waymouth St in the Adelaide CBD was drawing attention for all the wrong reasons.

Adelaide City councillor Sandy Wilkinson said the building was an eyesore and said the city was “being ruined by developments” like it.

Its construction sparked further submissions to The Advertiser which included numerous hospitals, the ABC building and even the Adelaide Festival Centre, which featured in UK newspaper The Telegraph’s list of the world’s ugliest.

“Three months before the Sydney Opera House opened, Adelaide gave the world this performing arts centre. It didn’t quite receive the same adulation as its counterpart,” the newspaper said.

PERTH

A Guardian city review said “many would call the Perth Arena the worst building in Perth”.

“It’s misshapen and angular. It resembles a teenager who hasn’t grown into his body and is all elbows and knees,” the review said.

A 2012 Perth Now poll also crowned it the city’s ugliest with 28 per cent of the 10,000 votes cast.

It finished just ahead of the Perth Convention and Entertainment Centre and the Telstra Exchange.

CANBERRA

It seems the ugliest building in our national’s capital is the Edmund Barton Building with its concrete “silos”, joined by horizontal columns studded with steel buttons.

Will Gardner, an emerging Canberra architect at the time in 2016, said there was a joke that Canberra had the worst buildings by the best architects.

“Unfortunately, many of these buildings have failed to capture the imagination of the local community or enrich our unique Canberra lifestyle and setting,” he told the SMH.

“With time they have proven to be inefficient, costly to maintain and ultimately many have fallen into a sad state of disrepair.”

TASMANIA

In 2009 The Examiner asked if Henty House was Launceston’s ugliest building.

“We now have the situation where we have Macquarie House, one of Launceston’s finest buildings, directly opposite the city’s ugliest building,” Alderman Beams said in a Launceston City Council meeting.

Henty House, built in the early 1980s and considered an example of brutalist architecture, was heritage listed in 2011.

In an article for The Mercury last year, Libby Sutherland labelled one of the ugliest buildings in Hobart the old Tasmania Bank building that now houses Routleys.

DARWIN

Darwin’s architecture in general has been labelled ugly.

Urban planner and designer James Lunday in 2011 said, “On the whole, you have got really ugly commercial architecture”.

“(There are) probably some of the ugliest buildings that I have actually seen in quite some time in one collection,” he said.

In one standout, Darwin alderman Rebecca Want de Rowe, who studied architecture for three years at Charles Darwin University, said the Casuarina student accommodation was “hideous” or just plain old “ugly”.

“It’s got no character. It doesn’t fit in with it’s surroundings. I feel sorry for the people living opposite it,” she said.

Do you agree these buildings are ugly? Comment with your thoughts below or tell us the worst buildings in your area

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