Spitbank Fort scoops top design accolade

AWARD WINNER Spitbank Fort
AWARD WINNER Spitbank Fort
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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THE newly-refurbished Spitbank Fort has won an award for architectural excellence.

It was named as one of the winning buildings in the Royal Institute of British Architects awards, which recognise architectural achievement. It was given a RIBA South Award, one of 52 buildings to receive either a regional or a national award.

Architect PLC Architects, structural engineering firm Hamill Davies, services engineering provider Lowe & Oliver and contractor Newman Scott were all praised for their joint efforts in developing the fort into a luxury getaway, while preserving as much of it as possible.

At the awards ceremony in Swindon, the judges said: ‘It is easy to imagine the isolation, charm and unique presence that a mid-19th century brick fort in the middle of the Solent will offer a visitor.

‘But to take on the restoration of such a brutally exposed structure and to bring a neglected scheduled ancient monument back to life, must have required enormous perseverance, with the real risk of failure.’

The judges said that the key thing in the conversion had been using crawlways and hoist shafts to bring in everything needed during the renovation so the 6ft walls and ceilings were not disturbed.

‘This avoids any disruption to the double-curved brick vaulted ceilings,’ the judges added.

The fort cost £3.5m to renovate and was opened to the public in March last year.

It is run by Clarenco, which is owned by Dreams founder Mike Clare, and offers a hotel, wedding venue and conference centre.

The winner was Visitor Centre, Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckingham.