2014 Yearbook

R E V I E W 23 of English design it represents, Landmark has continued to adapt it to keep it functioning, most recently with the installation of an air source heat pump in 2012. Its popularity among more traditional heritage buildings in Landmark’s collection is remarkable, and visitor surveys demonstrate time and again that it causes those who stay there to think differently about architectural space and about buildings old and new. The approach to rescuing Astley Castle was, therefore, one to which the Landmark Trust brought a considerable body of experience. The condition and circumstances of any historic building is unique and each building needs a different response. Landmark’s experience suggested that modern reuse involves adaptation in even the most conservative scheme, that bold acts are sometimes necessary, that clarity of purpose is all-important, and that the quality of materials and craftsmanship is always vital. ASTLEY CASTLE REBORN The design competition for Astley Castle was entered by a series of brilliant architects. In the end, however, the scheme by Witherford Watson Mann was chosen for the fact that it saw the new work as growing physically out of the old, rather than standing alongside it. A weaving together of ancient and modern in which the modern not only completed the ancient but also provided the structural rigidity it had lost, captured the imagination of the selection panel. The success with which the proposal was realised owes a great deal to the fidelity of the scheme as it was built to the original concept. Although widely celebrated for its new work, the rescue of Astley Castle was overwhelmingly a conservation project, and a painstaking programme of repair and consolidation lies at its heart, effected by specialist contractors and Landmark’s own skilled craftspeople. The result is a remarkable hybrid. The finished building looks as though a great fragment of a medieval sandstone castle has been completed by a brick counterpart, falling from the sky like a giant Tetris shape. The concord between the thin brown-red Petersen bricks and the great blocks of Warwickshire sandstone is unquestionably one of the successes of the scheme. What is particularly striking about Astley Castle, of all the projects that the Landmark Trust has completed, however, is the degree of public interest and excitement. The combination of old and new seems to have fired something in the public imagination that other conservation projects, every bit as expensive, complicated and creative have not ignited. As a consequence, people who think they have no particular appetite for the old have visited and voiced their support. Through Astley Castle they have encountered and been excited by the world of conservation in spite of themselves, an achievement which is perhaps as much a victory for conservation as the rescue of the castle itself. Anna Keay PhD became the director of the Landmark Trust in July 2012 following two years as a trustee. She is a historian and curator with a specialist interest in 17th-century British history. She worked for English Heritage from 2002–12 where, as curatorial director, she was responsible for the presentation of its historic properties, collections and public archive. Anderton House, Devon: blending vernacular traditions with the austerity of the modern movement Astley Castle before the 2007–12 prize-winning restoration scheme