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Controversial castle restoration wins architect top award 

PAGE 22 CONTROVERSIAL

Architects who came under fire for a rather surprising restoration of a crumbling castle are having the last laugh on villagers who ridiculed it as “a wreck”.

Conservation bodies might not have liked the facelift for the ninth century Castillo de Matrera in Cádiz but experts in a design competition have completely disagreed.

Despite the uproar over the way the old Spanish fortress was restored, the project has won a top architecture award against stiff oppo-sition.

The castle was nominated in the Architizer A+ awards in the architecture and preservation category and scooped the “popular vote” accolade.

“We are extremely happy,” the architect behind the project, Carlos Quevedo, told Spanish newspaper The Local.

“For us it’s an enormous recognition of a job that took five years and a huge effort. Just being a finalist was already a huge recognition of our hard work but we are delighted to have won the prize.”

The Architizer A+Awards celebrates the best architecture and products and says its mission is to “nurture the appreciation of meaningful architecture in the world and champion its potential for a positive impact on everyday life.”

The architects, who always rejected the criticism of their work on the listed building and an official site of cultural interest, will pick up the award in New York in May.

They said they wanted to strike a balance between the past and future and to “avoid aesthetic mimicry “. They had used a mortar and limestone to match the original, all overseen by architects and had actually unearthed new features not seen before.

The Spanish fortress was built on a hill 523 metres above the sea in the Anda-lusian town of Villamartin and is in private ownership.

It was restored following repeated complaints about its condition but the finished product led to complaints.

“They’ve forgotten to put a satellite dish and a Coca Cola sign,” one disgruntled visitor commented at the time whilst another said: “It’s an insult to the town and its inhabitants!”

The project was also defended by the Andalucian government which said it had not contravened any rules.