Monday, 28 October 2013

Georgian Group Architectural Awards / Shortlist / New Building in the Classical Tradition

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There is clearly no shortage of commissions, despite the prevailing economic conditions. From a large number of entries we have shortlisted two very different projects.

Onslow Park, near Shrewsbury, follows on the footprint of two previous houses on an established estate: a Georgian house destroyed by fire in 1960 and a more prosaic replacement, best described euphemistically as very much of its time, that was built by the current owner’s father in 1961. Now, in direct line of succession, we have this Schinkelesque country house, a beautifully composed classical essay grafted onto the surviving historic outbuildings. As always with Craig Hamilton’s country houses, it is exquisitely detailed but intriguingly spare. This is as much classicism of the mind as of the heart, sourced from the intellect rather than worn on the sleeve. Visual excitement is generated not with frippery or superfluous ornament but through careful shifting of volumes and clever articulation of mass, typical of which is the slight recession of the centre bays and the use of arched openings to form an arcade on the garden front. Inside, the top-lit galleried stair hall and the spiral cantilevered staircase are carried off with aplomb. Above all, one has a sense of every part being deeply considered, both for itself and for its contribution to the whole. Onslow is the mature work of an architect who stands as a bridge to the great British classicists of the early twentieth century.

Our second scheme is a radical transformation and embellishment of the public face of the Oval cricket ground in south London. The new forecourt pavilion, seamlessly grafted on to the well-mannered red brick stand at the Tavern End, replaces a tired and pedestrian banqueting suite with a monumental tiered building that forms a clear and coherent entrance in place of a chaotic jumble. It accomplishes this in a way that is emblematic and festive, creating a sense of occasion and whetting the appetite for the sport to come. The confident central portico has clever and well-handled flourishes, evident in the bespoke Prince of Wales ostrich feather capitals and the stone urns subtly referencing the Ashes. This is a fine beginning to an exciting longer-term project by the Duchy of Cornwall to clothe the Oval in the vestments of a latter-day Colosseum.    

The awards will be presented by The Marquess of Salisbury on the evening on 29 October 2013.

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