Reborn Ruins Receive Architecture Award

Astley Castle has won the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize 2013 for best new building. The project, a groundbreaking modern holiday home inserted into the crumbling walls of an ancient moated castle, in Warwickshire excelled over the five other shortlisted entries.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network would enjoy displaying their art collections in this amazing house.

The architects, Witherford Watson Mann were rewarded with the UK's most prestigious architecture award.

Astley Castle is a 12th century fortified manor which had been lying in ruins since a fire gutted it in 1978. When the architects came to work on the building it was in a state of collapse and on the Heritage at Risk Register.

What has been built is no straightforward restoration, the building had seen additions and revisions carried out in almost every century since Medieval times, so knowing which period to emulate would have been impossible.

The architects solution was to stabilize the ruin and create the next layer of the building’s history. The result is a highly complex and original new house giving the castle’s visitors a truly unique experience.

Speaking this week at the award ceremony, RIBA President Stephen Hodder said:

“Astley Castle is an exceptional example of how modern architecture can revive an ancient monument. It is significant because rather than a conventional restoration project, the architects have designed an incredibly powerful contemporary house which is expertly and intricately intertwined with 800 years of history.

"Every detail has been carefully considered, from a specific brick pattern to the exact angle of a view, resulting in a sensually rich experience for all who visit. This beautiful new building is a real labour of love. It was realised in true collaboration between a visionary client, designer and contractors.”

This is the first time Witherford Watson Mann has won or been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize. Their previous buildings include the Amnesty International UK headquarters, the Whitechapel Art Gallery extension in London with Robbrecht en Daem, and Arts Council Manchester.

Astley Castle was chosen by the judges from the following outstanding shortlisted entries:

• Bishop King Edward Chapel, Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire by Niall McLaughlin Architects
• Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, Northern Ireland by heneghan peng architects
• Newhall Be, Harlow by Alison Brooks Architects
• Park Hill Phase 1, Sheffield by Hawkins\Brown with Studio Egret West
• University of Limerick Medical School by Grafton Architects

Reborn Ruins

The challenge of how to be resolutely of this age while simultaneously embracing the past is one of the most complex problems that architects have had to face throughout architectural history.

Architecture critic, Joseph Rykwert, said of this project, “there is no comparable recovery of an ancient monument anywhere in the U.K., and very few elsewhere.”

"The question of conservation and finding new uses for buildings whose original function has disappeared is extremely pertinent today, not only because of the economic climate, but because this is a country that wears its past resolutely on its sleeve. History is central to the national identity. Here history becomes a living, energetic force."