RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects, has chosen Astley Castle as the winner of its 2013 Stirling Prize. This is the first time the prestigious award has gone to a revived historic building, rather than a completely new build. And get this– you can stay here.
The castle, located outside Birmingham in Warwickshire, is owned by the Landmark Trust, a UK charity which restores buildings of architectural and historic note and transforms them into incredibly unique holiday rentals (I speak from experience — my family are dedicated Landmarkers).
While the charity normally tries to be as authentic as possible in its restorations, in the case of Astley Castle, originally built in Saxon times and most recently updated in the 1770s, much of the building was in ruins, and beyond the point of re-creation. The Trust worked with UK architects Witherford Watson Mann on a design which both preserved the remaining features of the old building and brought the property into the 21st Century.
The contrast of raw timber against medieval stonework and the large glass walls framing picturesque country views make it clear why Astley Castle was the frontrunner for the award from the beginning, and also the favourite of the British public, according to polls in various media outlets. The space sleeps 8, and though fully booked for the foreseeable future, could make an amazing holiday base a little ways down the road.
(Images: The Landmark Trust)