Our Architectural Awards, sponsored by international estate agents Savills, recognise exemplary conservation and restoration projects in the United Kingdom and reward those who have shown the vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes. Awards are also given for high-quality new buildings in Georgian contexts and new architecture in the Classical tradition.
The 2011 Awards were presented by Viscount Linley on 31 October 2011.
The judges were the architectural historians Dr John Martin Robinson (Chairman), Professor David Watkin and Emeritus Professor John Wilton-Ely; the architecture critic Jonathan Glancey; Lady Nutting (Chairman of the Georgian Group); Charles Cator (Deputy Chairman of Christie's International); and Crispin Holborow (Director of Country Property at Savills).
2011 Winning and Commended Schemes
A record eighty entries were received, of which nineteen were shortlisted and eight were selected as award winners. The remaining shortlisted schemes were commended.
RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN COUNTRY HOUSEThere are two aspects to restoring country houses. One is about repairing fabric, perhaps dramatically so after a fire. But the other, more subtle but no less important, is about revivifying a place, allowing it to recover its spirit.
RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN BUILDING IN AN URBAN SETTING
We are all well aware these days of the key rôle that historic buildings play in urban regeneration, and part of the purpose of this award is to acknowledge the contribution made by restored Georgian buildings to the quality and vitality of our towns and cities. As usual, competition in this category was especially fierce.
COMMENDED Creative Ropewalks scheme, Liverpool This umbrella project encompasses coordinated grant and enforcement action by Liverpool City Council to rescue and restore disused and derelict Georgian buildings. Included are several in Seel Street, a notoriously derelict Georgian street with numerous buildings at risk. If we at the Georgian Group were given to the weakness of despair, this street would surely have provoked it, over the years, as surely as any other in the country. Enormous physical changes are happening in Liverpool, as brash new architecture sweeps into the centre, and buildings such as these stand on land often seen, not least by their owners, as development opportunities. This project shows that rehabilitation is possible, as we maintain it is, mutatis mutandis, for those rows of Victorian terraced houses in Liverpool being demolished more or less as we speak. The success of the Creative Ropewalks Initiative, and the vision behind it, should give pause for thought.
REUSE OF A GEORGIAN BUILDING
Redundancy can often herald a miserable period in a building’s history but it also offers opportunities for those who can see the almost endless potential of historic buildings for adaptation and flexible reuse.
RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN CHURCH
This award is reserved for churches that remain in use for worship. For several years the category has been dominated by blockbuster restoration schemes on London churches, with the odd diversion to the provinces for excellent schemes such as last year’s winner, St Alkmund’s in Shrewsbury.
RESTORATION OF A GEORGIAN GARDEN OR LANDSCAPE
This award is especially prone to the vagaries of timing, as landscape restoration schemes are prolonged affairs. As usual, we include within the category schemes that involve the restoration of garden buildings and monuments and this year we have shortlisted three projects, one dauntingly broad in its sweep and two relatively petite.
NEW BUILDING IN THE CLASSICAL TRADITION
Well, the apostles of glass are recanting! Even the architect of the Gherkin feels we are fed on thin gruel and acknowledges a desire for a richer and more satisfying architectural diet. When we inaugurated this award some might have thought us wilfully perverse, hopelessly kicking against the pricks. Even now we feel a little like recusants denying the orthodoxy, and certainly no other awards are yet prepared to acknowledge that the classical tradition survives. But, inch by inch, classicism is edging back into the mainstream, asserting its validity as an architectural language. The proof is in the quality of the projects we see annually.
WINNER Shilstone Manor, Modbury, Devon (Christopher Rae-Scott for Sebastian and Lucy Fenwick) Shilstone is a fascinating palimpsest, a new country house grafted onto an 1800 remodelling of a mediaeval house. The building had been progressively reduced in size during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries until it was effectively a ruined farmhouse. The task of rebuilding it over the past ten years has been daunting enough, but what especially impresses is the painstaking thoroughness of the work, using locally quarried stone and directly-employed local craftsmen and basing the plans on meticulous historical and archaeological research. Among the hills of south Devon this must at times have seemed a Sisyphean labour, but the result is a triumph.
(Peregrine Bryant Architects for Mr and Mrs Colin Lees-Millais) Whittlebury is a charming limewashed house at the heart of the ancient hunting forest of Whittlebury in Northamptonshire. It is a sylvan idyll that could easily have been spoilt by an ill-judged building. The site is superb and the effect of being set within a natural rather than a designed landscape is compelling: the architect has responded cleverly by conceiving the building as a hunting lodge, allowing the forest to flow unmediated up to the rear elevation, creating dramatic vistas. Again, there is a subtle responsiveness to context here which suggests that the architect has spent hours on site formulating a bespoke response. The result is satisfying, with a sense of drama that stops short of bombast.
GILES WORSLEY AWARD FOR A NEW BUILDING IN A GEORGIAN CONTEXT
We were delighted to be able to name this award, introduced in 2006, in honour of the late Dr Giles Worsley, who served as a Trustee of the Georgian Group for many years among his many other accomplishments.
The award is an especially apt tribute to Giles, as he himself inspired it. He was, as we know, equally comfortable with historic and contemporary buildings and he sensibly saw past, present and future as part of the same continuum.