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.


Building Control

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
     

CASE STUDY
National Museum of the Royal Navy

Storehouse 10 at the historic naval dockyard in Portsmouth was constructed in the mid-eighteenth century, during an upsurge in naval building prompted by events such as the Seven Years War. It was originally used to store everyday supplies for working ships plus some naval items.

During the Second World War, Storehouse 10 was hit by an incendiary bomb, which destroyed the clock tower and most of the roof and upper floors. More extensive damage was prevented due to a strenuous firefighting effort to save the radar sets within, which were to be some of the first installed in Royal Navy ships.

Restoration of Storehouse 10 was gradual and was eventually completed in 1992. It has now been converted to form part of the National Museum for the Royal Navy complex. 

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CASE STUDY
Airbus - AWIC

The new £40m Aircraft Wing Integration Centre is arranged to maximise opportunities for departments to share spaces, equipment and ideas and will provide an innovative, highly flexible and easily adaptable physical test environment that forms a proving ground for the future technologies. This includes Airbus’ Wings of tomorrow programme, part of which focuses on exploring how wings can be more efficient, lighter and easier to make and assemble, looking at the best materials to use, assembly techniques and new technologies in aerodynamics and wing architecture. Covering 9,050m2 the scheme comprises hangar facilities including a 'Strong Floor' and relocatable ‘Strong Wall’, a high capacity hydraulic system to power multiple test rigs, three overhead cranes, laboratories, testing control rooms and open plan offices. As this facility is to be used to develop new technologies it was clearly important to build in flexibility for future uses. The delivery team was involved through this period and translated the design development into physical form with the same mind-set.

The ‘Strong Floor’ itself is 40 metres long by 18 metres wide and is housed within a building over 25 metres tall to allow the testing of full size wings from the largest Airbus aircraft including long term fatigue testing. A total of 1,440 cubic metres of concrete was used for the floor which took some 23 hours to cast to a total depth of two metres. The steel reinforcement amounted to a total of approximately 280 tonnes of rebar, estimated to be around 54 km laid end-to-end.

The 'Strong Wall' is 14 metres long, 10 metres high, 4.5 metres deep and has a total weight of 220 tonnes. It is made up of four modules and can be configured in two separate two module walls or a single four module wall. The mounting surfaces are machined to a close tolerance and when erected on the strong floor all points on the flange faces are within +/-1mm of a flat vertical plane. The structure is designed to cope with billions of load cycles so resistance to fatigue is the determining factor as well as its immense strength.

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CASE STUDY
Burwalls House

The Burwalls site consists of a substantial historic Grade II listed main house and stable block annex and lies in nearly 5 acres of land adjacent to Brunel’s world famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. The main house is in the Jacobethan style and was constructed in 1872 as a private dwelling by Joseph Leech, a local entrepreneur and owner of the Bristol Times and Mirror.

The site was purchased in 2014 by Kersfield Developments who obtained permission to split the main house into 5 impressive apartments, convert the Stable block in to 2 units and for the construction of 4 new detached dwellings.

The main house has been extended at various points during its history and some of the current works in this sensitive conversion were to remove elements of the more recent additions which are detrimental to the original building.

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