Astley Castle

Seamless integration of medieval and modern in a picturesque setting

The Project

A 12th-century fortified manor which had been lying in ruins since a fire in 1978, Astley Castle had seen additions and revisions carried out in almost every century since Medieval times. Throughout its history the site has been owned by no less than three Queens of England.

The Landmark Trust boldly set out to reinstate occupancy of Astley Castle in a manner appropriate for the 21st century.  After careful recording, those parts of the building beyond pragmatic repair were taken down.  By inserting a groundbreaking modern holiday home into the shell of the ancient castle, the architects, Witherford Watson Mann, were able to both stabilise the ruin and create the next layer of the building’s history.  The results showcase how modern architecture can be unashamedly but sympathetically stitched into ancient fabric to significant effect.

The Approach

Oculus proactively guided the Design Team in the challenging task of applying the Building Regulations for residential accommodation for this ancient and complex moated site. The new-build introduced consolidates and ties together what could be saved of the original fabric as unobtrusively as possible, leaving the Castle’s form in the landscape largely unchanged.  Large glazed panels now frame views of medieval stonework and the adjacent church and surrounding countryside.  

Astley Castle won the RIBA Stirling Prize for the Best Building of the Year in 2013.

RIBA President Stephen Hodder described the project as ‘a real labour of love’, saying ‘Astley Castle is an exceptional example of how modern architecture can revive an ancient monument.’

Astley Castle won numerous awards including:

  • RICS West Midlands Conservation Award 2013
  • RIBA West Midlands Regional Award 2013
  • RIBA West Midlands Conservation Award 2013
  • RIBA National Award 2013

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