the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
 

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick

astley castle originally served as the royal family’s fortified manor for three generations before being turned into a hotel during the second world war. after years of abandon, it became a ruined curiosity for those who knew of its location until the landmark trust – a building preservation charity – proposed to restore the structure. a competition took place for which architects were invited to submit proposals for the renovation of the residence and surrounding gardens.

 

london-based studio witherford watson mann architects was chosen to carry out the project, breathing a new life into the ancient construction. given a project of this scale, the studio questioned relationship between the old and new — how the new structure might fortify the collapsing ruin without stripping it of its historical image. to retain as much of the original feel of the space as possible. 

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
all images courtesy of the landmark trust

 

 

the design strategy aimed to reoccupy the old residence, to re-institute the spaces as they had historically been used, retaining as much of the original feel of the space as possible. brick became the material of choice for the intervention as it matched the idea of the first construction but retained a visually evident difference. it also allowed the new construction to transition into the old masonry elements following the uneven joints created by the dilapidated walls. construction crew worked hand in hand with archaeologists to excavate the site in preparation for the insertion of new materials. large concrete lintels and other larger structural members had to be craned in from outside the mote, which also complicated the construction process. cintec ties were used to strengthen existing walls without adding any visible structure with a process that includes drilling holes into the partitions and filling them with a steel rod and expanding cementitious grout.

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
entry gate

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
stark contrast between original masonry and new brickwork

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
main hall exemplifying moments of the new intervention and the old construction

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
central stairs made from contemporary materials

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
stair detail

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
kitchen

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
masonry detailing in the kitchen

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
living room

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
bedroom

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
exposed original stonework in the bedrooms

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
exposed original stone details in the bathroom

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
bricks follow the uneven wall lines of the original masonry walls

the historic royal family's astley castle sees a renovation in brick
bird’s eye view of the original castle, before renovation

  • I personally think it is very interesting… I love how the structure was preserved from the exterior(the choice of brick is good!) and how it created sublime spaces on the interior; however I would have probably approached in it a different way such as using large glass windows on some facades that create an in-and-out flow of space. And maybe a bit more color on the interior

    rasha
  • I am a staunch traditionalist in historic restoration. I support replication when done within the historic context, and executed by “lineage knowledge holders” of traditional skill sets, and trained artisans. Unfortunately, we are very few in number, and most budgets do not support that level of restoration. That will mean that much of our historic fabric will be lost if we do not step forward and support the work of organization like “The Landmarks Trust,” and what they are trying to do.

    It is easy to criticize from the “armchair,” and point out perceived flaw in modality and design. I can always see improvements in my own work in both my designs, and the methods I employ, whether vintage or new work. To criticize this after the fact in others works is pointless and fruitless, nor generally productive. It is a challenge to bring modern design ito vintage architecture, and do it well, as often as not it is done poorly with the “disneyfication” of the old work with “indigent” replication, or ugly modernity. I believe, over all, this is one of the finest meldings of modernity and archaic I have ever seen…little would I change if I was to have had a chance to do the work under the budget and constraints of this project.

    Well done…

    Jay C. White Cloud
  • Congratulations a very good restoration.

    Fèlix Vives
  • I think this is one of the, if not the most magnificent renovation works I’ve come across. Sometimes, the reason people celebrate ruins and dilapidated structures apart from the nostalgic value, is because natural dilapidation, over time may add a sculptural aesthetic to the structure. Something that is very unique and can only be achieved over time. Case in point – the fireplace block in the main hall.

    Usually architects/designers add a lot of new and contrasting materials (as some comments also suggest) but keeping these sculptural architectural elements intact and celebrating them in this way makes the new space immensely majestic. Instead of adding too many new elements and details everywhere, I like that they have done minor alterations in most areas and concentrated on making the private spaces (like bed and bath rooms) more comfortable to live in.

    This project is an answer (of sorts) to my problem with many other renovation projects because they don’t end up showing the evidence of the passage of time and the history of the site as WWM Architects have in this site. I appreciate and really admire renovation works of Italian Masters like Carlo Scarpa, but all projects of this nature do not need to take the same approach. This is a fresh perspective of looking at structure that was practically completely ruined. I’m extrememly impressed. GREAT WORK!!

    DB
  • Who were the the italian architects you’re referring to?

    spork
  • I was fascinated with the state of the building after World War II and I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the ruins restored with fresh pieces of a clearly alternate color, as the previous gentleman mentioned, the Italians have so successfully done.
    It is not important for one to see an absolute replica of the very original structure but I don’t feel that there was enough left of the structure it to warrant the rather unattractive intervention that took place.

    Ron Smith
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