Astley Castle in Warwickshire by Witherford Watson Mann Architects wins the RIBA Stirling Prize 2013 for the best new building of the year
Astley Castle, a groundbreaking modern holiday home inserted into the crumbling walls of an ancient moated castle, in Warwickshire by Witherford Watson Mann Architects has won the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize 2013 for the best building of the year. Now in its 18th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize.
The presentation of the RIBA Stirling Prize trophy to Witherford Watson Mann Architects took place at a special ceremony this evening (Thursday 26 September) at Central Saint Martins, King’s Cross, London.
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 stabilise 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 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.”
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
The 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize judges were: Sheila O’Donnell – architect, O’Donnell + Tuomey; Paul Williams – architect, Stanton Williams; Dame Vivien Duffield – philanthropist and Chair of the Clore Duffield Foundation; Tom Dyckhoff – journalist and broadcaster and RIBA President Stephen Hodder.
The winners of the RIBA Lubetkin Prize for the best international building and three special awards were also announced this evening:
- Cool Conservatories, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, won the RIBA Lubetkin Prize for the most outstanding work of international architecture outside the EU by a member of the RIBA. This is the second year running for Wilkinson Eyre Architects, who won the prize last year for Guangzhou International Finance Centre.
- Slip House in Brixton, South London, by Carl Turner Architectswon the RIBA Manser Medal for the best new private home.
- Montpelier Community Nursery by AY architects won the RIBA’s 2013 Stephen Lawrence Prize. Set up in memory of Stephen Lawrence who was setting out on the road to becoming an architect when he was murdered in 1993 and funded by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation, the prize rewards the best project with a construction budget of less than £1 million and is intended to encourage fresh talent working with smaller budgets
- The National Trust won the 2013 RIBA Client of the Year. The award recognizes the role good clients play in the delivery of fine architecture.
The Architects’ Journal is the trade media partner for the RIBA Stirling Prize and special awards.
Notes to editors
- Full information about the RIBA Stirling Prize, including previous winners is at: http://ribastirlingprize.architecture.com
- For further press information journalists please contact Beatrice Cooke in the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3813 / 07805 173681 or email email@example.com
- Images of the winning building and shortlisted entries can be downloaded from: https://app.box.com/s/to9pchawzc2qnw8qxu71
- The judges citation for the RIBA Stirling Prize winner follows:
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. It is also one that, over the past two centuries, has perhaps caused the most argument. Astley Castle resolves that argument with beauty, intelligence and a rigour that runs through to the smallest of details. There is, of course, great romance to a ruined castle. This, however, can be as much hindrance as help to the architect seeking to give this ruin a future, a highly pragmatic one at that, as a holiday home. Witherford Watson Mann has managed at once to respect the past, to be gentle in its relationship, while simultaneously not being afraid to make its architectural presence felt, and with some force. It has dealt with Astley’s ruins with intelligence and practicality, while adding to them with a contemporary architecture that is rich, visually beautiful and tactile. The architects have responded intuitively to the site, working with the client throughout the process on a voyage of discovery, to give the castle its new form. The result darns together not only the present and the past, but the head and the heart with a complexity and deftness that is only truly appreciated when within the building itself. This is a building that constantly reveals itself both inside and out. For this we have to thank the client as well as the architect, a client willing to be extremely ambitious in its commissioning. In the end, all great architecture comes down to a conversation, between client and architect, between history and the present.
As the 2014 Royal Gold Medallist, Joseph Rykwert, said of this project, “there is no comparable recovery of an ancient monument anywhere in this country, 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 our economic climate, but because this is a country that wears its past resolutely on its sleeve. History is central to our national identity. This is a clever and robust response to the issue, instead of one that is over cautious or that clashes, inappropriately. So much so that the one upholds the other in every sense. Here history becomes a living, energetic force.
- The RIBA Stirling Prize is for the best building in the UK by RIBA chartered architects and International Fellows, or in the rest of the EU by an RIBA chartered architect. The RIBA Stirling Prize is chosen from a shortlist drawn up by the RIBA Awards Group following visits to eligible schemes. The shortlisted buildings are judged on a range of criteria including design vision, innovation and originality, capacity to stimulate engage and delight occupants and visitors, accessibility and sustainability, how fit the building is for its purpose and the level of client satisfaction. The RIBA Stirling Prize jury determines the winner on the day of the prize’s presentation and its votes remain confidential. Full details about the prize can be found at http://ribastirlingprize.architecture.com
- This is the 18th year the RIBA Stirling Prize has been presented. Previous winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize include: Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge by Stanton Williams (2012); Evelyn Grace Academy, London (2011) and MAXXI Museum, Rome (2010) both by Zaha Hadid Architects; Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital, London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (2009); Accordia housing development by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios/Alison Brooks Architects/Maccreanor Lavington (2008); The Museum of Modern Literature, Marbach am Neckar, Germany by David Chipperfield Architects (2007).
- Links to download images of the RIBA Lubetkin Prize and special award winners:
Images of the 2013 RIBA Lubetkin Prize winner can be downloaded here:
Images of the 2013 RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize winner can be downloaded here:
Further information on the Stephen Lawrence Prize at:
Images of 2013 RIBA Manser Medal winner can be downloaded here:
Further information on the RIBA Manser Medal at:
- Established in 1895, The Architects’ Journal has consistently been at the forefront of architectural publishing. Its weekly news coverage, comprehensive building studies and in-depth technical and practice features make it essential reading for the profession, and its incisive commentary makes it a must-read for opinion formers. The AJ is the UK’s leading independent architectural magazine, whose authoritative voice has informed generations of architects. For more information on the RIBA Awards programme visit the AJ website at www.architectsjournal.co.uk
- The Royal Institute of British Architects champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and its members. www.architecture.com @RIBA
2013 RIBA Stirling Prize for best new building – shortlist announced
27 June 2013
RIBA Press Contact: Beatrice Cooke – 020 7307 3813; firstname.lastname@example.org
Shortlist images: https://app.box.com/s/8j1y1jhjreayefljch7x
The shortlist for the prestigious 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize for the best new building has been announced today (Thursday 18 July). Six exciting and exceptional buildings will now go head to head for architecture’s highest accolade from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
The 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist features the vibrant reinvention of a 1960s Sheffield housing block Park Hill; the bar-raising suburban Essex housing development Newhall Be; a contemporary new holiday home within the burnt-out shell of the 12th century Astley Castle; the highly original and beautifully crafted Bishop Edward King Chapel; the dramatic and monumental Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre and the sculptural yet economic University of Limerick Medical School and student housing.
The RIBA is working in partnership with the BBC on the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize; The Architects’ Journal is trade media partner.
This year’s RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist features some ‘fresh’ architecture talent – five of the six practices are on the list for the first time, beating-off competition from previous winners including Sir David Chipperfield and Dame Zaha Hadid. It is also the first year in the prize’s 18 year history that half of the shortlisted firms have women at the helm: Alison Brooks Architects, Grafton Architects and heneghan peng.
The six architecture practices competing for this year’s title (and their odds according to William Hill) are:
Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, Northern Ireland by heneghan peng architects.
William Hill odds: 3/1
Breaks the mould of the traditional visitor centre that tends to hide from the limelight or make a statement, this highly imaginative and sculptural piece of ‘land art’ offers visitors an experience that is physical and interactive, like the causeway itself. Having ‘tuned in’ so perfectly to the environment, the visitor centre acts as the perfect prologue for the main event.
Park Hill Phase 1, Sheffield by Hawkins\Brown with Studio Egret West
William Hill odds: 9/1
Reinvention of the loved and loathed Grade II* listed 1960s housing estate. The structure of the building remained in place whilst key features were changed – interior layout, windows, security and much more. It stands as a beacon for imaginative regeneration, quality mass housing and the bold reuse of a listed building.
Newhall Be, Harlow by Alison Brooks Architects
William Hill odds: 3/1
The radical re-thinking of the shape and interior of the UK house is tackled masterfully with these 84 new homes in suburban Essex that clearly illustrate that good design quality and committed developers can transform peoples’ lives. A new model for British housing?
Astley Castle, Warwickshire by Witherford Watson Mann Architects
William Hill odds: 6/1
Beautiful contemporary Landmark Trust holiday home installed in the ruined walls of a 12th century manor. Unique example of the recovery of an ancient building – it is a prototype for a bold new attitude to restoration and reuse.
University of Limerick Medical School by Grafton Architects
William Hill odds: 6/1
Exceptional example of how to create a vibrant new public space through the careful design and placement of buildings. High-quality, beautiful and dramatic buildings that punch far above their rock-bottom budget.
Bishop Edward King Chapel, Oxfordshire by Niall McLaughlin Architects
William Hill odds: 9/4
An uplifting spiritual space of great potency that the client has described as ‘what we dreamed of but didn’t think we would get’. An incredible showcase for modern British craftsmanship.
The six shortlisted buildings range dramatically in size and purpose, but all will be judged by the same criteria: their design excellence and their significance to the evolution of architecture and the built environment.
Housing is a key highlight of the shortlist, with the projects at Newhall Be and Park Hill offering two very different answers to the quality and quantity crisis of British housing. They both show that with vision, careful-crafted design and a committed developer, great things really can be achieved.
The question of how to re-use historic listed buildings is boldly answered twice, with Park Hill and Astley Castle, both Grade II* listed. Challenging the traditional ideas of conservation and restoration, the architects have creatively re-invented these buildings within their existing structures, with astounding results. The Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre worked within the constraints of a UNESCO site and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to create something that also rose far above the expectations posed by its challenges.
Exquisite detailing abounds in all six projects, perhaps most potently in the Bishop Edward King Chapel in Oxfordshire whose rich stone façade and timber interior provide some of the best examples of craftsmanship the judges have seen for some time. Attention to detail has also transformed Limerick Medical School’s simple teaching and study areas into rich, theatrical spaces – all on an incredibly modest budget (€1,220 per sq m).
Angela Brady, RIBA President, said:
“The RIBA Stirling Prize is awarded to the building that has made the biggest contribution to the evolution of architecture, and nowhere is the need for fresh-thinking needed more than in housing. The UK is blighted with unimaginative, poor quality houses that people don’t want to live in but have little other choice, so I am delighted to see two amazing and highly original housing projects on this year’s shortlist. These projects show how when talented architects and clients work together and focus on quality, affordable and desirable new homes can be created. They shine a light on what the future of UK housing can be.
All six shortlisted projects are ground-breaking in their own way – buildings that deliver more than could ever have been expected. Some of them, such as Park Hill and the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, are genuinely courageous in laying out a new visionary approach.
This RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist is sending out the clear message that creative vision improves our lives.”
The winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced on the evening of Thursday 26 September at Central Saint Martins, King’s Cross, designed by last year’s RIBA Stirling Prize winner Stanton Williams.
The 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize judges who will visit the six shortlisted buildings and meet for a final time on the day of the presentation (26 September) to pick the winner are: Stephen Hodder – architect and RIBA President Elect (President: 01/09/13; Sheila O’Donnell – architect, O’Donnell + Tuomey; Paul Williams – architect, Stanton Williams; Dame Vivien Duffield – philanthropist and Chair of the Clore Duffield Foundation; and Tom Dyckhoff – journalist and broadcaster.
Previous winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize include: Sainsbury Laboratory by Stanton Williams (2012); Evelyn Grace Academy (2011) and MAXXI Museum, Rome (2010) both by Zaha Hadid Architects; Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital, London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (2009); Accordia housing development by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios/Alison Brooks Architects/Maccreanor Lavington (2008); The Museum of Modern Literature, Marbach am Neckar, Germany by David Chipperfield Architects (2007).
Notes to editors:
1. For further press information please contact Beatrice Cooke in the RIBA Press Office – email@example.com or 020 7307 3813/07805 173681
Images are available via this link: https://app.box.com/s/8j1y1jhjreayefljch7x
2. The RIBA Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture award. Given to the architect of the building thought to be the most significant of the year for the evolution of architecture and the built environment, the RIBA Stirling Prize is judged on a range of criteria including design vision, innovation and originality, capacity to stimulate engage and delight occupants and visitors, accessibility and sustainability, how fit the building is for its purpose and the level of client satisfaction. www.architecture.com/stirling
Park Hill Phase 1
South Street, Park Hill, Sheffield, S2
Architect: Hawkins/Brown with Studio Egret West
Landscape Consultant: Grant Associates
Client: Urban Splash
Contractor: Urban Splash Build
Structural Engineer: Stockley
Services Engineer: Ashmount
Contract Value: confidential
Date of completion: February 2013
Gross internal area: 27,928 sq m
- Together the two firms of architects have worked with developers Urban Splash to address the contradictory demands of conservation and commerce and to bring back to life a Sheffield landmark.
- The original aspiration of the late 1950s blocks to resemble an Italian hill village had degenerated into a sorry place to be – the completed first phase once again gives the people of Sheffield and visitors a building that excites and inspires
- The original streets in the sky have been made safe with security measures and a metre borrowed from their generous width to add to the accommodation. Set back doorways and corner windows also humanise these spaces
- The architects have doubled the amount of glazing, while retaining the character of the original concrete and exposing inside the split-level apartments but walls have been removed to full them with light
- The vibrant coloured panels borrow from the gradated pastel colours of the original brickwork, giving a Corbusian vigour to the facades.
Architect: Alison Brooks Architects
Client/Contractor: Galliford Try Partnerships/Linden Homes Eastern
Structural Engineer: Thomasons
Masterplanning: Studio REAL/Alison Brooks Architects
Contract Value: £12,000,000
Date of completion: July 2012
Gross internal area: Total site: 1.63 hectares
- The 84 unit Newhall Be scheme demonstrates the added value that good architects can bring to the thorny problem of housing people outside our major cities. ABA have worked with housing developer Galliford Try and persuaded them that investing in quality adds to their bottom line
- By halving the size of the gardens – creating roof terraces in total equalling the land ‘lost’ – the architects managed to get an extra six houses on to the development. This paid for extras such as full-height windows, dedicated studies and convertible roof space, things which don’t feature in the standard housebuilders’ products
- The 10.5m x 9.5m plot size for the courtyard houses, which predominate, is a clever manipulation of internal/external space, incorporating simple effective moves such as the gentle angling of the flank walls and balconies to avoid overlooking.
- The overall scheme raises the bar for suburban housing developments that – if emulated could and should have a significant impact on development across the country.
- This is a fine achievement in its own right. In the context of much of the UK’s new housebuilding it is truly exceptional.
Architect: Witherford Watson Mann Architects
Client: The Landmark Trust
Contractor: William Anelay
Structural Engineer: Price and Myers
Services Engineer: Building Design Partnership
Contract Value: £1,350,000
Date of completion: July 2012
Gross internal area: 285 sq m
- This sensitive scheme places the new building at the heart of the old. It shows creativity as well as preservation and conservation
- In the burnt-out ruins of 12th century fortified manor, the architects have created a new house which allows Landmark Trust guests to experience life in an old castle yet in immediate environs that are distinctly 21st century
- Astley Castle demonstrates that working within sensitive historic contexts requires far more than the specialist skills of the conservation architect: this is an important piece of architecture, beautifully detailed and crafted
- The decision to put the bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor and the communal spaces above makes the experience of the house very special.
Bishop Edward King Chapel
Architect: Niall McLaughlin Architects
Client: Ripon College and Community of St John the Baptist
Contractor: Beard Construction
Structural Engineer: Price and Myers
Services Engineer: Synergy Consulting Engineers
Contract Value: £2,034,000
Date of completion: Jan 2013
Gross internal area: 280 sq m
- Built to serve a theological college and a small religious order of nuns, the chapel defies its diminutive scale to provide an uplifting spiritual space of great potency
- This is a materially rich scheme: above an ashlar base the principal material is a cream limestone hand-broken and laid criss-cross with the raw ends exposed, producing an extraordinarily rich texture
- The building is rich in its allusions to architectural history yet possess the power to impact on any passer-by
- A ribbon of high windows floods the chapel and its ambulatory with even light. The delicate timber structure is of blonde wood. This is an church for all seasons and serves equally all the diverse branches of the Anglican Church
- Cuddeston fulfils its complex brief with a lyrical grace.
Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre
Causeway Road, Bushmills
Architect: heneghan peng architects
Client: The National Trust
Landscape Design: heneghan peng architects (concept design)
Mitchell + Associates (implementation)
Structural Engineer: Arup
Services Engineer: Bennett Robertson
Contract Value: confidential
Date of completion: May 2012
Gross internal area: 1,800 sq m
- This elegant, powerful visitor centre appears to be born of its place; the irregular lines of basalt columns grow and recede into the landscape to form the building edges, with the building roof a part of the dramatic landscape
- Visitor Centres are hard to do; this one serves as shop, café and exhibition without any one function over-powering what is a simple, telling piece of architecture
- Visitor Centres are normally self-effacing buildings fulfilling the needs of visitors but careful not to draw the limelight. This one pulls of that difficult trick of being a destination in its own right without upstaging the principal event – the causeway which is set a kilometre apart and invisible from it
- The internal space is made from a large concrete soffit with slices of roof lights and slots between the basalt allowing natural light deep into the heart of the building.
University of Limerick Medical School, student housing and bus shelter
Architect: Grafton Architects
Client: Plassey Campus Developments
Contractor: PJ Hegarty & Sons
Structural Engineer: PUNCH Consulting Engineers
Services Engineer: Don O’Malley & Partners
Completion date: Sept 2012
Gross internal area: 9900 sq m
- It is not easy to create good architecture on an incredibly tight budget and previous architectural experiments on the Limerick Campus have been mixed, but Grafton Architects have taken an ordinary programme for the student housing and a series of muscular buildings that despite their modest size, have a scale and weight and create a point of entry to the campus
- Facing is the medical school which is cool grey and monolithic, another relatively modest building with a strong presence. The central space of the medical school soars above the entry, rich in timber details against massive concrete, with views up to a study area overlooking the atrium, and further still to bridges and windows on higher levels.
- This building feels like it punches well above its weight. It transforms simple teaching and study spaces into rich, theatrical spaces, with a generosity that verges on the heroic.
- The heroic bus shelter that completes the fine hard-landscaped square also forms a dramatic entrance to a neighbouring restaurant pavilion (by other hands). This is place-making of the first order.
4. The RIBA and BBC collaboration will include an online vote for users of the BBC News website to choose their favourite of the six shortlisted buildings, along with Magazine feature content.
5.Established in 1895, The Architects’ Journal has consistently been at the forefront of architectural publishing. Its weekly news coverage, comprehensive building studies and in-depth technical and practice features make it essential reading for the profession, and its incisive commentary makes it a must-read for opinion formers. The AJ is the UK’s leading independent architectural magazine, whose authoritative voice has informed generations of architects. For more information on the RIBA Awards programme visit the AJ website at www.architectsjournal.co.uk
6. The Royal Institute of British Architects champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. www.architecture.com @RIBA
7. The winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced on the evening of Thursday 26 September at Central Saint Martins, King’s Cross, designed by last year’s RIBA Stirling Prize winner Stanton Williams. Guests will experience the architecture party of the year and an event unlike any previous RIBA Stirling Prize awards. Celebrations take place in the covered 180m central ‘street’. To book: www.architecture.com/RIBAStirlingPrize2013