New Building in the Classical Tradition category
Three buildings by reliably impressive architects have been shortlisted for the New Building in the Classical Tradition award. In alphabetical order, they are:
Francis Terry’s Howard Theatre at Downing College, Cambridge, which forms the final side of what is now a quad, opposite William Wilkins’s west range and at right angles to two other Terry buildings. Its Ketton stone exterior, articulated with a robust Doric colonnade, is a relatively austere and sober curtain-raiser to a delightful 160-seat theatre arranged in the Georgian manner, indeed inspired by Wilkins’ Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, with side galleries set in a rectangular plan and an exuberant ceiling painted with classical scenes.
The new Pipe Partridge Building at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, also helps enclose a quad, also has an arcaded elevation and also contains a theatre, albeit a lecture theatre, but one beautifully detailed with signature flourishes, from ceiling pendentives to decorative iron acanthuses. This may be undergraduate accommodation, but there is no sign of the cut corners, cheap fittings and value engineering that mar similar buildings elsewhere. The architects have picked up Raymond Erith’s cue and used fully-loadbearing brick, warmly pointed with lime mortar, and the buildings fits comfortably within the LMH tradition of enlightened architectural patronage.
Wudston House in Wedhampton, Wiltshire is a delightfully improbable classical essay, a Palladian country villa with archetypal loggia set on a tight site in an English village. The hint of incongruity is quickly forgotten: this is a rigorous and serious building with a powerfully monochrome interior, but there is no sense of dry-as-dust pedantry: playfulness and imaginative flair are especially evident in the extraordinary staircase, an arrow-straight stone flight designed with an acute sense of theatre: a real flight of fancy. The decoration is deliberately spare, allowing the architecture to speak unhindered, but the single decorative flourish, in the form of large stucco panels by Geoffrey Preston, is brilliantly conceived and realised.