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National Trust picks Knole House victor

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Rodney Melville + Partners wins £2.5 million barn overhaul in Kent, but fellow competitor criticises ‘disproportionate’ procurement route

Rodney Melville + Partners has won a National Trust competition for the £2.5 million overhaul of a medieval barn at Knole House in Kent.

The Leamington Spa and Bristol-based studio beat Richard Griffiths Architects, Berman Guedes Stretton, Purcell, Cowper Griffith Architects, Thomas Ford & Partners, and Cambridge firm Caroe Architecture, to win the job.

Planned to open in 2015, the project will transform a barn close to the 17th century calendar house into a conservation centre.

Describing the scheme, National Trust project manager Richard Hill said: ‘We’re guided by spirit of place, the conservation management plan, and the visitor experience.’

However, finalist Richard Griffiths criticised the design competition as ‘totally and utterly disproportionate’ to the value of the work, claiming it had cost his practice around £10,000 to enter.

Griffiths said the practices should have been asked to explain their design approach, rather than producing costly architectural designs that ‘only counted for
40 per cent of the assessment’.

‘You don’t have to interpret a two-stage OJEU in the way [National Trust] did to demonstrate compliance with OJEU,’ he said.

Hill responded: ‘We have to follow OJEU procedure but for the benefits of applicants and ourselves, we would like to keep it simple.’ He said National Trust would review its procurement process to ensure it did not ask for more than was required in future.


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