Stirling Prize goes to house for first time

A modern holiday home inserted into the crumbling walls of a moated castle in Warwickshire has won the RIBA Stirling Prize 2013 for the best building of the year- the first time that either a house or a conservation project has won the prize.

Astley Castle, a 12th century fortified manor which had been lying in ruins since a fire gutted it in 1978, was redeveloped by Witherford Watson Mann Architects.

It is the first time the practice, whose previous projects have included the UK headquarters of Amnesty International, has been shortlisted for the 18-year-old prize.

The project was a particular challenge because the building had been added to in almost every century since it was first built. As it would therefore have been difficult to work out which period to emulate in the restoration, the architects instead chose to stabilize the ruin and create a new modern layer in its history.

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.”

The same ceremony saw Slip House in Brixton, South London, by Carl Turner Architects win the RIBA Manser Medal for the best new private home.

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