We were delighted to be able to name this award, introduced in 2006, in honour of the distinguished architectural historian Dr Giles Worsley, who served as a Trustee of the Georgian Group for many years.
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. Our two shortlisted schemes are listed below in alphabetical order.
Sir John Soane's Orangery at Sledmere House in the East Riding stood at Fairford Park in Gloucestershire until Fairford was demolished in 1957, at which point the National Trust dismantled the façade and sanctioned its removal to Sledmere. Its numbered blocks have since been carefully stored at Sledmere, awaiting reconstruction. In a project instigated by Sir Tatton Sykes, this has now happened, the original façade now married to a fine new garden building by Digby Harris of Francis Johnson Architects, its coved ceiling enlivened by intricate plasterwork by Stevenson’s of Norwich. The Bath stone of the orangery tones remarkably well with the Mansfield stone of Sledmere; it is a happy and harmonious conjunction.
The second shortlisted scheme is the extension and bath house at Williamstrip in Gloucestershire. Both are designed by Craig Hamillton. The extension remedies the muddle that existed on the south side of the house, rationalising the entrance courtyard and providing an impressive double-height hall with a Corinthian screen partly composed of columns in Kilkenny marble. The effect on the east elevation of the house is transformative, with the dinginess swept away and a subsidiary elevation added in the form of a beautifully composed, rigorous pavilion with a clear logic of its own. Across from this, in a garden setting, is a monumental new bath house, devoted to the pursuit of relaxation but deeply serious and robust as a piece of architecture. This is a powerful statement, impressive in the conviction with which it expresses its apparent message: mens sana in corpore sano.
The winner will be announced on the evening of 31 October 2012.