Lancaster Castle

by BDP

Client Duchy of Lancaster

Awards RIBA North West Award 2022 and RIBA North West Conservation Award 2022

© Nick Dagger

This sophisticated regeneration of a range of buildings dating back to the 12th century provides a masterclass in sensitive restoration and reuse. Closed as a prison in 2012, the client’s brief was to regenerate the complex into “more of a castle, less of a prison”. The complex condition survey took one year and the architect worked closely with the client to manage phases and budgets, ensuring that a viable and controlled sequence of works could be pursued and neither client nor architect “bit off more than they could chew”.

The project re-opens the splendour of the complex of buildings to the general public whilst also facilitating the continued use of the court buildings. The balanced regard for existing structure yet considered and appropriate introduction of new insertions create an exceptional example of re-purposing. The material palette is limited and sophisticated with meticulous detailing.

Although the completed works are phase one of a wider vision, they have provided a re-invention of the castle from prison to community asset. Opened as lockdown eased, the outdoor space within the castle walls created an immediate health offering to the general public and a new sense of place. Seven buildings around the new landscape have been brought back into use and include teaching facilities, museum exhibition spaces, contemporary coffee shop, artistic/retail space, and offices. A stylish café interior. New works are minimalist in nature, subtle and elegant, and enhance rather than detract from the historic setting.

Seven further buildings have been made water and weather tight to save them from further decay and the project’s sustainability credentials start with high regard for embodied carbon, health, and wellbeing. Constructive collaboration of heritage stakeholders, the local authority, Historic England, and the wider community have been key to the project.

The success of this project is clear to see in the ongoing client/architect relationship and shared vision for future phases. The scheme to date, which creates an exemplary piece of placemaking whilst accommodating ongoing court service use, is more than deserving of an award, yet there is still so much potential in future phases and collaborations.

Location Lancaster

Contractor Manchester & Cheshire Construction Company Limited

Structural Engineers Peter Brett Associates

Environmental / M&E Engineers Peter Brett Associates

Landscape Architects BDP

Acoustic Engineers BDP

Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant Appleyard & Trew

© Nick Dagger
© Ian Steel
© Nick Dagger
© Nick Dagger
© BDP
© BDP
© BDP
© BDP
© BDP
© BDP
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