Renovated County Durham castle named best building in North East at RIBA awards

Auckland Castle, Tower and Faith Museum, County Durham, by Níall McLaughlin Architects & Purcell
-Credit: (Image: Nick Kane)


The renovation of a County Durham castle has been named the North East's building of the year.

All four of the projects named on RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)'s shortlist for the North East Awards 2024 have been announced winners after the body's regional jury visited each building this spring. The overall winner is the renovation of Auckland Castle, which judges said constitutes "a valuable extension to the town, offering visitors and locals moments of amusement, reflection, and education while supporting the longevity of the built heritage."

It took home the RIBA North East Building of the Year 2024 and the RIBA North East Conservation Award. The MAC Trust of the Fire Station Auditorium in Sunderland took the RIBA North East client of the year, while Alex Maxwell Davies was named North East project architect of the year for his work on Percy Cottage in Northumberland.

The Raven Tower, a blackened timber tower at glamping site Hesleyside Huts in Northumberland, took the North East small project of the year award. Each of the buildings will be considered for a RIBA National Award, which will be announced on July 11.

The shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize – the UK’s best new building – will be drawn from the RIBA National Award-winning projects, and announced in September. The Stirling Prize winner will be announced in October.

Emily Posey, RIBA North East Jury Chair, said: "From Pele Towers to Siege Towers this year’s RIBA North East winners delivered historical conceptual responses to the briefs in varying scales, from small interventions to generous public offerings, heeding the local histories of the area in a playful style.

"The use of local materials and craftsmanship was a common thread in the projects, demonstrating that well-crafted design can be achieved at any scale. Each project found its own way to add tactility and joyful moments to the architectural experience, enriching their locality whether for visitors, local communities, or domestic life."

That is certainly true when it comes to the Raven Tower, which has been designed to hark back to the days of the Border Reivers and their skirmishes along the Anglo-Scottish border. Anna Charlton of Hesleyside Huts said: "I’m hugely proud that Raven tower has won two RIBA awards.

Raven Tower at Hesleyside Huts
Raven Tower at Hesleyside Huts -Credit:Handout - Hesleyside Huts

"This is very much down to Newton Architects who believed in our ambitious design ideas and worked so hard to make them a reality. We have created a very special space for our guests to enjoy nature, stars, and our incredible Northumbrian landscape".

Visit Northumberland issued their congratulations on Facebook, with a post reading: "Huge congratulations to Hesleyside Huts and Newton Architects for Raven Tower winning the very prestigious 2024 RIBA North East Award! The Royal Institute of British Architects has been celebrating outstanding work for over 180 years, recognising the best architecture, architects, research and students.