The Tricorn: the death of a 60’s icon

TRICORN copyright chriswoodartist all rights reserved

Homage to the late TRICORN CENTRE Portsmouth UK

The above image is a detail of a wonderful piece of Brutalist Architecture that has probably attracted more column inches and more adverse remarks than any other piece of architecture in Portsmouth – past or present ! Whilst there was a strong faction who admired the Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth, (I, for one), many thought it was an eye-sore and it was voted the third ugliest building in Britain and Radio 4 listeners voted it the most hated building in the UK !

It was demolished in 2004 and all my only photos are similar to the above. Where possible, I will try to only use my own images on this blog. If you google the Tricorn Centre, Portsmouth you will see hundreds of images that show the entire building – personally I prefer close-ups, more abstract compositions, of shapes and forms and the way the changing light affected them.

Brutalism has many influential critics and the Tricorn had some equally influential ambasadors, namely the world famous architect Daniel Libeskind, who described it as “this gem of the 1960’s”. Personally,  I really like the fortress-like linear forms and the raw concrete surfaces – but then I’m not a critic or an architect !

It’s designers Owen Luder and Rodney Gordon were unjustly vilified for their vision but what is gone is gone – sadly the Tricorn didn’t get a “listed” status, unlike the Trellick Tower in London (designed by Erno Goldfinger). The moral of the story is if you love a building and someone else doesn’t – try to get it listed – the Portsmouth Society did their best to save the Tricorn but the City Council, in their infinite wisdom, tore this masterpiece down!   More thoughts on local architecture and 60’s icons later !

photo and text copyright chriswoodartist all rights reserved

About chriswoodartist

painter, print-maker and illustrator


  1. Johann G

    No surprise that an aestheticaly illiterate jackass like Daniel Libeskind likes this. It’s almost as bad as Libeskind’s own work which represents the nadir of building worldwide.

    • Sadly it’s 8 years since the demolition and nothing has replaced it !
      So – which aesthetically minded architect would you engage to design a replacement for the Tricorn ??

  2. billewhizz

    The Tricorn was one of the masterpieces of the 20th century. Unfortunately it didn’t last long enough to be recognised as such by the people in power. It was not just a great sculptural piece of concrete but represented many hours by carpenters who formed the shuttering for the concrete. There is now a growing ground swell of admiration for this architecture so I found it very arrogant that the powers that be chose to destroy it denying future generations from it and just for cheap votes.

    • Here Here ! Sadly, everything is designed by committee and the public gets what the public wants and it usually ends up bland and boring. Amazingly the TRICORN did get built and some of us enjoyed it for over thirty years – it’s such a shame it couldn’t have had a clean up and revamp but that’s progress ! The worst of it is there’s no replacement – the developers pulled out and it looks as if the site will stay a flat car park until at least 2017 !

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