The building is shaped like a matchbox. Or like a beehive. Designs of this sort need very little engineering and less imagination. It's mostly glass and concrete. More glass than concrete. It is a residential building.

In order to make room for it, an entire block of 19th Century buildings (very quaint and very much in keeping with the city's spirit) was mercilessly razed.

A handful of half-hearted protests from the neighbors followed. Those were ignored. The local media assessed the situation and found there was nothing worth reporting.

The monstrosity went up in no time. It now towers over the street, faceless and depressing.

Because the windows are walls, and the walls windows, it costs a fortune to keep the apartments warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Not that I think the tenants give a rat's ass: to those who can afford to rent a place in that building, the utility bill of any size is a trifling matter.

Ordinary pejorative words that people normally use to describe this type of architecture (matchbox, barn, etc) are way too weak. The monster is just too hideous, and the architects who designed it, contractors who built it, and tenants who live in it are too self-complacent and too dismissive of things that are beautiful and harmonious, as well as of the city's history, as well as of other people who live in the city.

To summarize. The building is neither a barn, shack, nor a matchbox. Those words are much too weak. Any suggestions?

Addendum: I once called the whole "ugly growth" phenomenon "a chancrous rash on the body of American architecture," but that's too general, I think. Nor is it an exclusively American thing either: London is chock-full of them, and so is any German city, and Paris is catching up pretty fast.

Before: buildings not unlike these:

not unlike these

... and now:

enter image description here


9 Answers 9


You may refer to skin diseases like furuncle, pustule or carbuncle (mentionned by @JHCL).

Note that the carbuncle cup is a British award for the ugliest building.

For example, Woolwich Central was the "winner" of the 2014 Carbuncle Cup. enter image description here

  • 2
    +1 for pustule. It has a certain disgusting quality to it that furuncle & carbuncle don't.
    – Dan Pritts
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 2:39
  • 3
    +1 for the answer which mentions carbuncle, indeed coined by Prince Charles in 1984. See a Telegraph article and scroll down to 1. National Gallery extension.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 10:56
  • +1 for Carbuncle. Probably Prince Charles' most significant contribution to the English language. (albeit his opinions were somewhat disputed by the architectural community)
    – Simba
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 11:50

An eyesore:

  • A thing that is very ugly, especially a building that disfigures a landscape.



a blot on the landscape:

  • something such as an ​ugly ​building that ​spoils a ​pleasant ​view.

The expression architectural aberrations is also used:

(The New York Times)

Ngram: architectural aberrations

  • Both are good, but I would like something that implies that it's not really a building, just a pathetic imitation of one.
    – Ricky
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 8:20


A thing that is very ugly, especially a building



There is the term Brutalist, which strictly covered only such buildings built in the period between the 1950s and the mid-1970s, but which has since become genericised (and lost the capital letter). Wikipedia is, as usual nowadays, spot on:

Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, descending from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. The term originates from the French word for "raw" in the term used by Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material béton brut (raw concrete). British architectural critic Reyner Banham adapted the term into "brutalism" (originally "New Brutalism") to identify the emerging style.

Brutalism became popular with governmental and institutional clients, with numerous examples in Britain, France, Germany, Japan, the United States, Canada, Brazil, the Philippines, Israel and Australia. Examples are typically massive in character (even when not large), fortress-like, with a predominance of exposed concrete construction, or in the case of the "brick brutalists," ruggedly combine detailed brickwork and concrete. There is often an emphasis on graphically expressing in the external elevations and in the whole-site architectural plan the main functions and people-flows of the buildings. Brutalism became popular for educational buildings (especially university buildings), but was relatively rare for corporate projects. Brutalism became favoured for many government projects, high-rise housing, and shopping centres to create an architectural image that communicated strength, functionality, and frank expression of materiality.

In its ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or easy, Brutalism can be seen as a reaction by a younger generation to the lightness, optimism, and frivolity of some 1930s and 1940s architecture. In one critical appraisal by Banham, Brutalism was posited not as a style but as the expression of an atmosphere among architects of moral seriousness. "Brutalism" as an architectural critical term was not always consistently used by critics; architects themselves usually avoided using it altogether. More recently, "brutalism" has become used in popular discourse to refer to buildings of the late twentieth century that are large or unpopular – as a synonym for "brutal."

  • +1. Also see this. CDG airport T1 was my first impression of Paris, and the architecture certainly didn't help matters.
    – March Ho
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 13:27
  • 14
    It's an abuse of the term "brutalist" to use it to describe the building photographed in the question. If it's not built of undressed concrete (the term comes from "béton brut" -- raw concrete), it's not brutalist. Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 15:29
  • @David Richerby That is yet another example of the etymological fallacy. Usage, not etymology, governs acceptability (of a sense, say). As Wikipedia says, the term is 'used in popular discourse' (and written without the capital) in the wider related sense. Few would argue that the term 'anti-Semitism' has narrowed its sense to the now almost mandatory one. Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 16:14
  • 4
    No, it's not the etymological fallacy. "Anti-Semitism" has the meaning it does because that is the overwhelmingly widespread usage. However, as far as I can see, there is no widespread use of the "genericized" definition of brutalism that you quote from Wikipedia. Can you find any dictionaries that document this usage? I couldn't. As far as I can see, in current usage, describing a glass and steel building as "brutalist" is just wrong. I'm not saying the meaning of the word must correspond to its etymology: I'm merely saying that current common usage concurs with the etymology. Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 16:28
  • In particular, Wikipedia's claim to "[usage] in popular discourse" is not backed up by any citation. Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 16:29


The noun abomination means a thing or action that is vile, vicious or terrible. For example, if you see a neighbor kick an old blind dog that's done nothing wrong, you might remark, "That kind of cruelty is an abomination!"

The word abomination comes from the Old French word abominacion meaning "horror, repugnance, disgust." The word abomination can also be used to refer to a person or object you find utterly loathsome and repellent. If you look at someone else as an abomination, that means you are horrified by them, and barely even think they're human. If you hear a friend describing you as an abomination behind your back, you need to find a new buddy right away! Vocabulary.com


: the quality or state of being atrocious M-W

atrocious: very bad; abominable or disgusting : their taste in clothes is just atrocious Wiktionary

  • I would, if the approach, methods, and results weren't so ubiquitous these days.
    – Ricky
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 10:16

How about "fugly"? It's a portmanteau of "fucking ugly".

I like eyesore as posted before, but if you want pejorative, fugly fits the bill pretty well.



odd or unnatural in shape, appearance, or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre

~ dictionary.com


something, especially a building, that is very large and is considered unsightly

~ google.com

You use monstrosity to describe the building in your question. It seems like a good fit in this context. I don't see anything wrong with it.

Here are a few more options: ugly things


You want to be insulting. Good! I agree that the building pictured deserves to be insulted. The most insulting word you can use to the kind of people who build and live in such a thing is "cheap".

I suggest cheap dump.

It is build with an eye to economy. Every square cm of the site that could be used for building has been used. Who needs even one tree? Nor have they wasted any cubic centimeters on useless fripperies like balconies or terraces.

Sentence for cheap dump: "Does anyone really live in that cheap dump, or were all the apartments sold to absentee owners?"

(It's not one word, but you said it could be more than one word as long as it was "really demeaning".)

  • Cheap certainly doesn't fit here. This building is hideous outside but presumably quite luxurious inside, with "plenty of light." OP says Not that I think the tenants give a rat's ass: to those who can afford to rent a place in that building, the utility bill of any size is a trifling matter. Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 9:59
  • 3
    @steveverrill There will be a lot of glop and gilt inside, but it will be cheap, and for show. the building will not wear well, because it is cheap; everything that did not show was skimped on. It's cheap. Even if it weren't cheap, the word cheap will infuriate the people who live there like no other word. The people who live there may have a lot of money but they have bad taste, and their apartments will look cheap , however much money they spend on them. Dump may be the wrong word,,hulk may be better -- but cheap in both its senses -- (1) inexpensive and (2) vulgar fits.
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 10:23

Never mind a single word; "fantastically ugly" is a superb way to describe such buildings!

Stick with it, I would.

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