A Restored Castle Won Britain's Top Architecture Award

Astley Castle, a 12th-century moated manor house that was recently transformed into a modern vacation residence, has won this year’s Stirling Prize.

This annual prize recognises the building that has made the greatest contribution to architecture that year, and is the Royal Institute of British Architects’ highest honour.

For an award that usually goes to the most cutting-edge buildings out there, the Astley Castle is a bit of an anomaly. The building dates back to the 12th century and has been linked to three former Queens of England.

“Astley Castle is an exceptional example of how modern architecture can revive an ancient monument,” Riba president Stephen Hodder said to the BBC.

Astley Castle was left in dire need of a renovation after a fire in 1978 gutted the residence. The winning design incorporates large glass walls into the original medieval stonework, making for a building that is truly an interaction between the old and the new. A new bronze and timber staircase goes up from old brick floors, while an open-air dining hall finds its new home in a ruined room.

Astley Castle interiorThe Landmark TrustThe modern accommodations show signs of the past.

The building was designed by Witherford Watson Mann Architects and made possible by the Landmark Trust, which helps to rescue important historic buildings that may have suffered damage.

The castle won with 27% of the votes, chosen from a shortlist of six other buildings that were all designed in the U.K. Reservations can be made at the Landmark Trust’s website, but hurry — the four-room lodge is currently fully booked through 2015.

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