Architectural firm Witherford Watson Mann has won the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize, an annual award recognizing the best in British architecture, for their refurbishment of the 12th Century Astley Castle in Warwickshire, England.
In singling out the project for “demonstrating creativity, preservation and conservation,” the Royal Institute of British Architects has chosen to shine a spotlight on the architectural redemption of an original 12th Century edifice and its subsequent iterations—additions and renovations spanning centuries, and culminating in a ruinous 1978 fire.
Rescued by Britain’s Landmark Trust, and slated to be a guesthouse, Astley Castle’s medieval walls remain standing, gashes and all, with the new meticulously detailed construction—comprised of brick, concrete and wood—situated entirely within the ancient footprint, visually enriched by the Castle’s imperfect remains. As the architects explain, “The house is animated by slashes of sunlight on stone walls and views over the ancient landscape. At the dining table, you look out from twelfth and twenty-first century construction to fifteenth and seventeenth century walls – the dialogue across the centuries frames conversations between friends.”
This 21st Century permutation of Astley Castle is, says RIBA, “An important piece of architecture, beautifully detailed and crafted.”