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Project modelled on Dubai Media City voted UK's 'ugliest' development

MediaCityUK, which was directly modelled on Dubai's Media City, is awarded 'Carbuncle Cup' gong.

DUBAI // A new creative hub in the UK, modelled closely on Dubai Media City, has been voted the country’s ugliest development.

MediaCityUK, the new home of BBC at Salford Quays, Manchester, was awarded the top prize last week in Building Design magazine’s ‘Carbuncle Cup’.

The competition, which has been running for six years, aims to identify “the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months”. This year’s edition was judged by architectural journalists from the Observer, Guardian and Sunday Times.

Ellis Woodman, editor of Building Design said that MediaCityUK was “directly modelled on Dubai’s Media City”.

“The main objection was that it was a failure at a master-planning level,” he said. “There’s just this crazy accumulation of development where every building is autonomous and shouting for attention.

“That’s a quality that one associates with the worst of recent development in the Middle East.”

However, Mohamed Abdullah, managing director at the Media Cluster of Tecom Investments, said that the firm had developed Dubai Media City with a concern not only for buildings but also public space.

“The public areas and infrastructure are also constantly upgraded to match the demands of our stakeholders and adapt to the dynamic environment,” he said.

The first phase of the Salford Quays development, designed by Wilkinson Eyre, Chapman Taylor and Fairhurst Design Group, was opened this year.

BBC Children, BBC Sport, BBC Learning and parts of Radio 5 Live are expected to move to the Corporation’s new northern headquarters in MediaCityUK by the end of 2012.

However, the new development has few fans. The BBC issued a statement last week saying that just 46 per cent of staff at BBC Breakfast have agreed to relocate to Salford. In March, a poll suggested 80 per cent would refuse the move.

Other tenants of MediaCityUK include ITV and the media studies department of Salford University.

A spokeswoman for MediaCityUK declined to comment on the results of the Carbuncle Cup. However, she said that Dubai Media City was an early inspiration for the Salford development.

“In the early days there was extensive research into the concept of a Media City and how other Media Cities around the globe operate,” she said.

“However, MediaCityUK was not based on Dubai Media City. It was designed around the needs of our target audience and in-particular our anchor tenant the BBC.”

mcroucher@thenational.ae

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