Astley Castle – Nuneaton Building

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Astley Castle, Nuneaton Architecture

Fortified Manor in Warwickshire, England – design by Witherford Watson Mann

Astley Castle wins Stirling Prize

Astley Castle : Stirling Prize winner – 26 Sep 2013

Congratulations to Witherford Watson Mann Architects – winners of both the critics and the public vote, a resounding victory.

Astley Castle
photograph © Landmark Trust

Speaking tonight, 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. I am delighted to present Witherford Watson Mann with the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize.”

Robin Monotti Graziadei (Architect & Designer, founder of Robin Monotti Architects) told e-architect, “Well deserved winner a thoughtful and sensitive approach to working with existing ruins”.

RIBA Manser Medal shortlisted 5 Sep 2013

Stirling Prize shortlisted – 18 Jul 2013

17 + 14 Jun 2013

Astley Castle, Nuneaton

Astley Castle, Nuneaton

Location: Warwickshire, Midlands, central England

Design: Witherford Watson Mann

RIBA Awards 2013 : RIBA National Award Winner – 13 Jun 2013

Astley Castle Astley Castle Nuneaton Astley Castle Nuneaton
photographs © Hélène Binet

Project Description

Astley Castle is a fortified manor built in the 12th century and progressively extended over the succeeding seven centuries. After a fire burnt out the roof and floors in 1978, its walls decayed and collapsed while a series of rescue attempts failed. In 2006 the Landmark Trust tried a final gambit: the creation of a contemporary house within the footprint of the castle remains, procured by architectural competition. The brief specified 2-4 bedrooms, with living and dining rooms and a kitchen, and stated that “form, materials, methods of construction and precise location within the building footprint will be at the discretion of the architect, but the result must be an exceptional building…To contain the overall cost, it is likely that significant parts of the Castle will have to be taken down and not rebuilt, with the remaining ruined sections stabilised.” The castle is grade II* listed, and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Astley Castle Nuneaton Astley Castle Astley Castle Astley Castle Astley Castle
photographs © Landmark Trust

We proposed to build the new house within the oldest part of the castle, building new walls directly onto existing remains, and to retain wings from the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries as walled external courts. We maintained the open character of the ruin rather than attempting to recreate the castle’s former completeness. Large gashes created by collapse were kept as generous window openings, edged in new brickwork and glazed. The accommodation occupies roughly half the footprint of the ruins, but new construction extends over the courts to tie, buttress and weather the retained fragments. The layout of the house is inverted: living quarters on the first floor, bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor.

Astley Castle Nuneaton
photograph © J Miller

Materials are economical and contemporary, but carefully colour matched to the existing palette of materials. They are strong but visually light. Old walls are capped and edged with new brick diaphragm walls, the full depth of the originals. The bricks are 40mm high, close to a conventional tile brick, coursing neatly into the broken stonework edges. They are laid in a quarter lap, using lime mortar, with the diaphragms bonded in every fourth course. Precast concrete boot lintels bind the walls at high level, including a ‘T’ shaped element stabilising the junction of 12th and 15th century constructions. The floor and roof structures are in laminated pine, with primary beams in upstand. Windows are in solid oak, and partitions are lined in birch ply and sycamore beading; the stair is in oak and steel, with a stud outer frame, and flitch plate stringer. Every room is a dialogue of construction across the centuries.

Astley Castle Nuneaton Astley Castle Astley Castle Nuneaton
photographs © Hélène Binet

After appointment of Witherford Watson Mann as architects in 2007, the scheme was developed to stage D for planning and HLF funding applications in early 2008, with stabilisation of the remains proceeding in parallel. New construction started in September 2010, in a two stage contract, and was completed in June 2012. The budget for new works was £1.25 million, the total project budget (including stabilisation, fees and client costs £2.5 million).

Astley Castle Nuneaton
photographs © Philip Vile

Astley Castle Nuneaton images from RIBA

Astley Castle Nuneaton information from Witherford Watson Mann

Witherford Watson Mann

RIBA Awards 2013 : RIBA National Award Winner – 13 Jun 2013


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Astley Castle Nuneaton Building

Website: http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/search-and-book/properties/astley-castle-4806

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