The winner of the 2013 Stirling Prize was announced at a special ceremony in London tonight: Astley Castle, a groundbreaking modern holiday home inserted into the crumbling walls of an ancient moated castle, in Warwickshire, England by London-based Witherford Watson Mann Architects has won the coveted trophy for the best building of the year. Now in its 18th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize, awarded to the architects of the best new European building built or designed in the UK.
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 today, 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 labor of love. It was realized 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 (previously on Bustler)
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.
Previous winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize include: Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge by Stanton WilliamsEvelyn (2012); Grace Academy (2011) and MAXXI Museum, Rome (2010) both by Zaha Hadid Architects; Maggie’s Center at Charing Cross Hospital, London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (2009); Accordia housing development by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios/Alison Brooks Architects/Macreanor Lavington (2008); The Museum of Modern Literature, Marbach am Neckar, Germany by David Chipperfield Architects (2007).
Below is a photo of Astley Castle in its dire original, pre-construction state. Click on the thumbnails below to see more photos of the castle's original condition.