Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Architectural porn: Cities and Other Ruins – Reflections on Astley Castle

Witherford Watson Mann, you may remember, were the architects who bagged last year's RIBA Prize, for their spectacular transformation of the 12th century ruins of Astley Castle into a Landmark Trust house.

Now you have the chance to nose around a decade of the practice's other work in an exhibition opening next month in London. Meanwhile, Astley Castle and a reminder of why they won...









Witherford Watson Mann's speciality, is urban design, but particularly the sort of design that builds on the old rather than razing it and starting from scratch. Much like their work on Astley Castle.

The exhibition will include highlights from the architecture firm's work over the past 10 years. They were responsible for the sleek refurb of the Barbican's Cromwell Tower (pictured above), they designed an urban forest in London's Bankside, the Arts Council offices in Manchester, the Amnesty International HQ in London and they're currently re-developing a south-east London Greyhound Stadium (in Catford) into flats.

There will also be a lecture in which the designers will ask: "With demolition and clearance still the preferred tools of ‘regeneration’ is there a case for a socially and materially richer process?"

The exhibition is in a marvellous venue too, the Sir John Soane's Museum which is one of those places I've been meaning to go to for years. I think this might be a good excuse to make it happen. It's pretty amazing, as you can see...




Soane (1753-1837) was Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy and during this post he began arranging his collected books, classical antiquities, casts and models so that students of architecture might benefit from access to them. The Lincoln's Inn Fields house, thanks to an Act of Parliament, has been preserved just as it was when Soane was alive.

Images of John Soane Museum, courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane's Museum. Astley Castle images from Witherford Watson Mann.

Cities and Other Ruins - Reflections on Astley Castle, by Witherford Watson Mann is free and runs Tuesday 4 – Saturday 15 February at the Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2. Find out more at Soane.orgThe lecture happens on Wednesday 12 February at 6.30pm (but at the Sheikh Zayed Lecture Theatre, LSE, not at the museum). 

Post by Kate

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