In the UK, castles with more than a thousand years of history are not exactly rare, but we’re about to see one that has received a particularly striking renovation. In Warwickshire, a house located inside the twelfth-century ruins of a castle has redefined the idea of old meets new.
It may look abandoned, but underneath the ruins of Astley castle there’s a very different dimension. This innovative holiday home inserted into the ancient structure is also the winner of this year’s Stirling Prize for architecture.
"Almost everything that we built new touched the old in a very direct way. The new brickwork and concrete built directly off the medieval walls as you’ll see. Some of the new walls are nearly 2 metres thick. Everything is connected to the old it’s all effected by it. This was multiple old, the core is medieval, so we weren’t respondary to one old, there were multiple languages there." said Stephen Witherford, Designer, Astley Castle.
Gutted by fire in 1987, Astley castle had been laying in ruins and was in a state of collapse.
"Ruin is not a natural state for a building. It’s a temporary state, and this was a ruin that in some ways was just a pile of stones, you would walk through and could not find any structure to it. From other angles you would see this grand silhouette which would evoke these culturally rich ideas." Said William Mann, Designer, Astley Castle.
The designers had hoped to make the modern look work within these ancient walls.
"There were two strong ideas put forward at the competition. Our key response was that we would build in the most historic part of the house, it’s been changed over many centuries. The other was to invert the house, to have the bedrooms on the ground floor, and to have the living accommodation on the upper level so it connects more with the landscape." said Stephen Witherford, Designer, Astley Castle.
The Astley renovation is also unique for being the first revived historic building to win the prestigious Stirling award, which has always gone to new buildings.