Is this really the world’s ugliest building?

Sheffield Hallam University The Hubs
Sheffield Hallam University The Hubs
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IT cost £15 million, it was a flop with the public and its sell-off for a knock-down price caused controversy and no little anger.

But now Sheffield Hallam University’s student union - formerly the National Centre for Popular Music - has hit a new low.

An international tourism website has voted the structure containing four stainless steel drums on Paternoster Row ‘the world’s ugliest building’.

VirtualTourist.com in its third annual awards has placed the Hubs, as it was rechristened, ahead of other notorious eyesores in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Copenhagen, Florence and Tokyo.

Its citation says the Hubs resembles ‘a mash up of a Jiffy Pop package, a salad spinner, and a food processor’.

“Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but then again so is ugliness and the members and editors of VirtualTourist.com have some very strong opinions about buildings that fall into the latter category,” the website adds.

But Hallam union president Jake Kitchiner defended the centre.

“Many of our students love the HUBs building. Its unique design allows us to provide students with a range of activities and events, all under one roof.

“It’s also a great building to work in, with a prime location, and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The building was originally built with the help of £11m of Lottery funding in the run up to the millennium, opening as the National Centre for Popular Music in March 1999.

But it confused the public who expected the centre to be a celebration of pop and rock music packed with memorabilia, rather than its broader interactive aim of getting people to enjoy music.

Visitors also complained that it was expensive and there was not enough to do - with ticket prices for a family of four coming to around £21.

Managers hoped the centre would attract 400,000 visitors a year but after seven months only 104,000 people had turned up and administrators were called in.

Despite a relaunch attendances fell away further and the building closed in June 2000.

After a period as a live music venue the building was taken over by Sheffield Hallam University in September 2003.

But a new row erupted when it was revealed Yorkshire Forward had sold the centre for £1.85m.