Monday, 1 November 2010

Countdown to our Architectural Awards III

Our 2010 Architectural Awards, sponsored by Savills, will be presented on 3 November by Baroness Andrews OBE, Chairman of English Heritage. In the run-up to the event, we are posting the shortlists for some of the key categories, along with the judges' citations.

Restoration of a Georgian Country House category
There are two aspects to restoring country houses. One is about repairing fabric, perhaps dramatically so after a ruinous fire. But the other, more subtle but no less important, is about recovering the spirit of the place; coaxing it back to life after neglect or misuse; re-establishing its connection with the land and places around it, often after a long estrangement. Our two shortlisted schemes, summarised in alphabetical order, cover both aspects in varying degrees.

Buckland House in Oxfordshire, 1757 by Wood the Younger, has been comprehensively restored for Patrick McNally; when he bought the house it had lain empty for years and was on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register. Taking on a house of these palatial dimensions, and in that condition, is a daunting challenge, not for the fainthearted, but the scale and consistent quality of the work and the unflashy attention to detail inspire awe: twenty-two student flats removed, twenty-six tons of lead recast and the stonework, ornamental plasterwork and joinery painstakingly conserved by skilled craftsmen, in an unstinting team effort that has reinvigorated a major Georgian country house that had lost its way.

Sandridge Park is a Nash house overlooking the Dart in Devon. Again, the new owners, the Yallops, have been white knights, investing significant resources – time, energy and careful thought as much as money – in piecing the house back together, rebuilding a section lost in the 1950s, removing a 1980s glass pitched roof and garage, filling in an indoor swimming pool and re-creating the 1805 conservatory (lost in the 1930s) using contemporary engravings. The depth of historical research is apparent in the result, and ironically Sandridge feels fresher, less dated, for having recovered its Nash spirit.

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