Winner Announced for Egremont Castle Performance Structure, Cumbria
International Open Design Competition
The RIBA Competitions Office is delighted to announce the winners of the international design competition for a new performance structure for Egremont Castle in Cumbria as Decosterd-Cotting Architects of Lausanne with Guscetti-Tournier Engineers from Geneva in Switzerland.
A two stage open competition was launched in July this year and 27 concept designs were submitted. From the anonymous first stage, three schemes were shortlisted and invited to attend a second stage interview to discuss their concepts with a jury panel. Moxon Architects with Built Engineers from London and Yehre Suh & Justin Kwok from Brooklyn, USA both made excellent presentations, but the panel were unanimous in selecting Decosterd-Cotting Architects as their design was felt to be the most flexible and elegant solution to a very challenging brief.
The radical design from Decosterd Cotting will be Cumbria's first truly contemporary architectural commission. It provides a weather proof cover for the ruined castle baillie using a lightweight flexible membrane stretched between four hydraulic pillars. The structure can be raised and lowered for public performance events and removed when not in use. The scheme will now be put forward for funding as part of the Egremont and Area Regeneration Strategy led by West Lakes Renaissance. The new structure places one iconic building within another, extending the use of the castle for concerts, plays and public events and adding to the growth of the town by creating a dramatic venue unlike any other.
Alistair Hudson of Grizedale Arts, project consultants, was particularly impressed by the winning design in that "it was an extremely technical and contemporary solution, yet it was the only entry which allowed the castle architecture to speak for itself. By using the existing walls it was effectively putting the roof back on the castle and bringing it back into use."
Robin Snell, RIBA Adviser commented: "The winning architect has understood the wider architectural aspirations of the brief proposing an effortless, abstract and elegant structure which successfully balances the new with the old to make a new venue and focus for the town. Importantly the idea has the 'room' to be developed with the client, to create a memorable multi-purpose space, which will give the town something it would not have thought possible at the outset."
Jean-Gilles Decosterd of the winning practice said of the design: "The Egremont project is a creative approach - an opportunity to boost the regeneration strategy of Egremont in two stages: the construction of a new public space and the shifting of the gravity of Egremont's social centre back to its historical roots. The framework for this project reminds us that the first responsibility of architecture is about dealing with public need and responding to local context. It follows that the castle's relationship to the town and its incorporation into the landscape are central to our intervention.
The structural concept echoes the architectural project which is a dialogue between the castle and its environment throughout the curved, straightforward and fluid silhouette. The choice of the structural scheme and its integrated materials meant to be used frequently must cope with assembly and dismantling on a daily basis. The shape of the cover, a hyperbolic paraboloid is capable of supplying the necessary rigidity and strength."
Ann Morton of the Egremont and Area Regeneration Partnership board and member of Friends of Egremont Castle group said ' At each stage, this project takes us nearer to realising a long standing vision to have a wonderful performance and activity space within the castle grounds protecting participants from the weather and providing an inspirational piece of architectural design that compliments this historic building.'
Ann-Marie Coperthwaite, Project Manager at West Lakes Renaissance, added; "The winning design is just what we were after – a striking structure that will not only be a talking point but also give Egremont Castle a new lease of life as a superb venue for concerts, plays and public events. We are now looking forward to securing the funding needed for the pavilion and seeing it in all its glory."