The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Sunday, May 27, 2018

Reflections on Astley Castle by Witherford Watson Mann at Sir John Soane's Museum
Witherford Watson Mann Architects won the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize with their exquisitely crafted transformation of Astley Castle. ©Helene Binet/Astley Castle.

LONDON.- The Sir John Soane’s Museum presents a pop-up exhibition by Witherford Watson Mann examining the RIBA Stirling Prize 2013 winning Astley Castle, in relation to their wider work on city transformation. The exhibition, opened 4th February, examines their unique approach with previously unseen visual material.

Witherford Watson Mann Architects won the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize with their exquisitely crafted transformation of Astley Castle, turning the ruins of a 12th century manor into an inspiring house for the Landmark Trust.

Although left thirty years in a state of decay, the castle was still vivid in the collective memory, after decades of use as a restaurant and hotel. The architects respected this memory by, softly but firmly, binding the new structure with the remains. With eight centuries of construction and several states of decay, the detailed design required great invention. The new Astley Castle is no longer a stronghold – it is an unexpectedly porous space suffused with nature and light, providing an ever changing backdrop to personal celebrations and collective milestones.

But prior to this very public acknowledgement of their approach towards the historic environment, the practice has engaged deeply with the challenges of urban transformation. Over the last decade Witherford Watson Mann have worked in areas which have undergone substantial change, and which, like Astley, have been ruined and recast more than once. Areas such as Shoreditch, Whitechapel, Bankside and the Lea Valley contain the broken remnants of religious or industrial enclaves, or have seen social and economic activity shift from the centre to the edges and back again. In their urban projects Witherford Watson Mann have proposed limited but decisive intervention to bring about transformational change, embracing the social capital and collective imagination embodied in existing structures. With their Bankside Urban Forest and ‘wild river walk’ along the Lea, they have also sought to break open the closed, hard fabric of the city into a richer symbiosis with nature.

In the exhibition at the Sir John Soane’s Museum, and an accompanying lecture hosted by LSE Cities, Witherford Watson Mann explores the relation between ‘completing’ a ruin such as Astley, and participating in the always unfinished project of the city. With demolition and clearance still the preferred tools of ‘regeneration’ is there a case for a socially and materially richer process? Can an incremental imagination help unlock the capacity that is already there in our cities? What might be the poetics and politics of making and experiencing the city in this way?

The exhibition features previously unpublished material on Astley Castle, illustrating the way in which a nimble design response has been combined with an empathetic social imagination to achieve something unique.

The Sir John Soane Museum provides a resonant backdrop to the exhibition, as a building which itself embodies a complex narrative of incremental urban transformation. The Museum’s current restoration project attempts to roll back the majority of dramatic interventions, returning the building where possible to Soane’s original vision and exploring the moral and material choices involved in deciding which built history to return to.

Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum, Abraham Thomas, said: “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Witherford Watson Mann on this exhibition. As clients, The Landmark Trust took the bold decision to select an architect willing to engage directly with the ruins of Astley Castle, producing a sensitive dialogue of materials and volumes. Many of the difficult issues explored in this exhibition posed similar dilemmas for Sir John Soane, an architect who worked in both an urban and rural context, and often on problematic sites with historical structures present.”

Dr Anna Keay, Director of the Landmark Trust, said: “The Landmark Trust saw the Astley Castle project as an opportunity to rescue a shattered and obsolete structure in an imaginative new way, which might help people think differently about Britain’s historic buildings. We are therefore delighted this exhibition will explore the contribution the project can offer to the debate about the future of our cities.”

Today's News

February 6, 2014

Camille Pissarro, Pierre Bonnard, and Pablo Picasso records broken at Sotheby's London

George Clooney directs A-listers to work for cheap in Robert Edsel's 'Monuments Men'

Previously unknown Brancusi sculpture on view at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam

New world record at Bonhams as Dali elephant weighs in at a triumphant £446,500

Bad Director's Chair: John Waters opens exhibition at Sprüth Magers Berlin

New body of work by the British painter Rachel Howard on view at Blain/Southern

Art made with code: DevArt by Google with the Barbican Centre launched today

The 15th edition of Art Rotterdam opens at a new location: Van Nellefabriek

Mitchell-Innes & Nash opens exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Julije Knifer

Rare French ceramics from Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection featured in new installation at Metropolitan Museum

Tender Bouguereau portrait offered at Bonhams after generations with prominent American family

Laurence Miller Gallery in New York celebrates its 30th anniversary with exhibition

Dads' rights activist jailed for defacing queen portrait at Westminster Abbey last year

Skateboarders force London arts centre to halt demolition plans

Robert G. La France chosen as new director of Owsley Museum at Ball State

Beth Carter's first solo exhibition at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery opens in New York

Portugal still plans Miro art sale despite auction hitch

Fake Chagall painting a 'very bad copy', expert panel rules

Exhibition of new work by Syrian painter Safwan Dahoul opens at Ayyam Gallery Dubai

Reflections on Astley Castle by Witherford Watson Mann at Sir John Soane's Museum

Wright presents Harry Bertoia Sculpture: 15 Years at Wright

'Empire of the Sun' internment camp forgotten in China

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- New Rembrandt found after being bought at London auction

2.- Exhibition at Fotohof focuses on groups in society who are at risk of marginalisation

3.- John Brennan collection of Rock n Roll memorabilia offered at RR Auction

4.- A Bob Dylan guitar fetches $495,000 at auction

5.- Exhibition in San Francisco focuses on the latter half of René Magritte's career

6.- 'Mad' king Ludwig II of Bavaria lost gift to composer Richard Wagner gets rare show

7.- New Royal Academy of Arts opens in celebration of its 250th anniversary

8.- Researchers uncover Anne Frank's 'dirty jokes'in her diary

9.- New York art sales near $3 billion in two weeks as uber-rich hunt trophies

10.- Berlin's Ethnological Museum returns grave-plundered artefacts to Alaska

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful