A few years ago, 12th-century-built Astley Castle was no more than a fire-ravaged, crumbling medieval structure in the English countryside.
Now, since its clever restoration by Witherford Watson Mann Architects in 2012, the Landmark Trust-sponsored residence in Warwickshire has been deemed “building of the year” as the winner of the most prestigious architectural prize in the United Kingdom, the Royal Institute of British Architects’ 2013 Stirling Prize. With its fortified ruins artfully incorporated into contemporary construction as a luxury vacation home, RIBA President Stephen Hodder praised the Astley Castle restoration as “an exceptional example of how modern architecture can revive an ancient monument.”
However, this year RIBA was unable to secure a sponsor to provide the £20,000 given to winners of the past, BD Online reported. This is the first year that the Stirling Prize comes with no cash value.
After a 1978 fire ravaged the already crumbling 12th century Astley Castle in Warwickshire, England, the Landmark Trust in the United Kingdom was not willing to give up on its preservation. In 2007, the charity organization held an architectural competition for a reimagining of the medieval structure and awarded Witherford Watson Mann Architects the project. The architecture firm restored the most ancient parts of the ruins and reinvented the structure as a luxury vacation residence, strengthening the old structure with new stone and timber and repurposing its rooms as modern quarters.
At the trophy presentation ceremony in London on September 26, Hodder gave Witherford Watson Mann Architects their first Stirling Prize win, commending their design and explaining RIBA’s decision thus:
“[Astley Castle] 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 labor of love. It was realized in true collaboration between a visionary client, designer and contractors.”