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Last updateTue, 24 May 2022 10am

Prize winners figure large, but no deal for the Green Deal among landlords

Construction National blog logoThe big story this week has been the announcement of Astley Castle in Warwickshire as the winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize. What, you may be thinking, is a 12th-century fortified manor house doing winning the UK’s most prestigious prize for new architecture? Has there been some kind of rent in the space/time continuum? Has 5D BIM finally conquered time travel?

 Astley Castle is owned by the Landmark Trust, which rescued ancient buildings at risk and turns them into holiday lets. In this case that was achieved by effectively placing an entirely new building inside the old one. The transition was the work of architects Witherford Watson Mann.

Presenting the award on 26 September, RIBA president Stephen Hodder said: “Astley Castle is an exceptional example of how modern architecture can revive an ancient monument.  It is significant because rather than a conventional restoration project, the architects have designed an incredibly powerful contemporary house which is expertly and intricately intertwined with 800 years of history.”

In its citation the judging panel said: “Witherford Watson Mann has managed at once to respect the past, to be gentle in its relationship, while simultaneously not being afraid to make its architectural presence felt, and with some force.”

One of the features of the design is the placing of the bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor, with the communal areas above, offering elevated views of the surroundings. And the very best thing is that people can enjoy the award-winning building while on holiday. Not for a while, however, as the commotion surrounding the award has resulted in a deluge of bookings for the property.

• On an altogether more low-key level, the second round winners of the NHBC Pride in the Job awards – the only awards scheme specifically recognising site managers in the housebuilding industry – have started to emerge. This stage – the award of Seals of Excellence and Regional Awards – is via a number of regional ceremonies. The first to declare, so to speak, was the West, on 6 September. The series carries on until 1 November, when the winners for Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man will be announced.

The paper version of Construction National, available to view from this website, regularly profiles the winners and their developments and this year is no exception. We offer our congratulations to the winners and best wishes for those in areas yet to announce their results.

• On the subject of retrofitting, the government’s Green Deal has suffered a setback in the private rented sector. A press release from the National Landlords’ Association has highlighted an “arc of disillusion” among private landlords about the scheme, following initial enthusiasm. According to an NLA survey, only 37% of private landlords said they would take up the scheme or where seriously considering it, compared to two thirds in 2011. Meanwhile, those saying they definitely would not be doing rose to 43%.

Interestingly, among the range of reasons given for turning down the idea, 10% said they didn’t understand it, while a whopping 47% said their properties were already energy efficient. Yeah, right!

Chris Stokes