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Stirling Prize 2013: The profession reacts

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The industry reacts to last night’s victory for Astley Castle by Stirling Prize ‘virgins’ Witherford Watson Mann

Alison Brooks, Alison Brooks Architects
‘It is wonderful that Astley Castle won the Stirling Prize. It sets an important precedent for historic architecture and how existing buildings can be reinvented and reinvigorated. It is radical in the world of preservation. They had wonderful clients. I thought Niall McLaughlin’s Bishop Edward King Chapel would win. But everyone recognises his achievement with the chapel.’

Ger Carty, Grafton Architects
‘Witherford Watson Mann’s Astley Castle is an amazing project. We can’t be disappointed about losing to a project as good as that. It could be described as radical. This is a best practice example of how historic buildings should be treated.’

Hugh Broughton, Hugh Broughton Architects
‘I was surprised by the result. I wanted Niall McLaughlin’s chapel to win. The decision is a radical move.’

Meredith Bowles, Mole Architects
‘The castle is such a historic piece of work but it is a radical departure from what is normally done with historic projects. It has been done a bit before but we have forgotten about it and this Stirling Prize win brings it back to our attention. They have thought about every detail.’

Colin Harris, director of Sutherland Hussey Architects
‘I’m a great admirer of Witherford Watson Mann’s work and highly regard Astley Castle; however  Niall McLaughlin has produced one of the best examples of British architecture for the past 50 years in Bishop Edward King Chapel.’

Russell Curtis of RCKa
‘It’s wonderful to see a beautifully-considered, restrained yet contemporary reuse of an existing building win the Stirling Prize after several years of expensive, bombastic projects. It was a particularly strong shortlist this year, but this is a brave choice which demonstrates that a restoration project can achieve historical clarity without resorting to pastiche and banality; something which is all too common in schemes of this nature. I’m really hopeful this award may go some way to enhancing the public’s acceptance of contemporary architecture in a historical setting.’ .

Jeff Brooks, design director PRP
‘A worthy winner. The project not only demonstrates a bold approach to restoration and reuse, but also sensitively deploys the typology, brief and program to dramatically describe the rich history of the historic building.’

Peter Morris of Peter Morris Architects
‘Astley Castle – it’s architecture with good bedside manners.’

Simon Henley of Henley Halebrown Rorrison
‘Astley Castle is serendipitous space made from what they found and wrought with great physicality. It is as if ‘chance’ had been captured with precision. It is a joy.

Sadie Morgan, dRMM
‘This Stirling Prize shortlist was full of the next generation of architects. It was an open-minded list and very diverse. The Stirling Prize is the pinnacle of anyone’s career. It will mean so much to Witherford Watson Mann. Everyone who sees Astley Castle is blown away by it.’

Roger Fitzgerald, chair, ADP
‘This is a prize for great patronage: full marks to the Landmark Trust for having complete confidence in contemporary architecture.’

Tom Dollard, Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects
‘Overall, it is inspiring to see so many different types of projects - from social housing to public buildings and even a castle! As I predicted on twitter, my money was always on the chapel to win, but as a social housing specialist myself, I wanted Park Hill to win.  Urban splash and Hawkins brown have done a really special job on the social side of sustainability and lead the regeneration of the area.  However, the client, concept and detailing of the king Edwards chapel is staggering and also thoroughly deserved to win.

‘However, now we know that the castle has won, I am happy that the people’s choice has won. As the winners say - it is a modest project that returns to historic values. It is also great to see a restoration project winning over new build, as this award is normally given to brash and bold new builds that are forging the contemporary style.  Astley Castle is a modest, sympathetic, yet very accomplished restoration project and so it is great to see such an exemplar celebrated.

‘Environmental sustainability does not seem to have featured much, which is surprising, but luckily all the finalists are of such quality that they are innately sustainable through their strong, robust and beautiful solutions.’

Christopher Boyce, design director, Capita Symonds
‘Astley Castle is a great scheme and one that is an example to all architects working in conservation. But the finest architectural work on show tonight was the Niall McLaughlin Chapel which will stand the test of time to become a listed treasure of the future.’

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