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Revamped tomb wins prize

by Katie Lamborn

A tomb with a view has scooped a top design prize after a revamp.

The Darnley Mausoleum in Cobham Wood, near Gravesend, was in a dire state of disrepair until its 12-year restoration.

Now it's been named project of the year at the prestigious Kent Design Awards.

Lady Bruce-Lockhart, widow of Lord Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, former Leader of Kent County Council and Chairman of English Heritage, presented the distinctive bronze plaque.

Canterbury architects Purcell Miller Tritton, and PAYE Stonework and Restoration of London, were applauded for their labour of love, which brought back to life the Grade 1 listed late 18 century building with its distinctive pyramid roof.

The panel of judges also paid tribute to the Cobham Ashenbank Management Scheme (CAMS) which began the huge task of restoring the mausoleum and reclaiming the woodland of Cobham Park.

The mausoleum took 12 years to repair and was featured on the BBC Restoration programme.

It had previously been on English Heritage’s national Buildings at Risk register for more than 15 years, was badly vandalised and in 1980 suffered a major fire.

Architects Allison Brooks Associates – who won the Stirling Prize for Architecture two years ago - won the public buildings category for The Quarterhouse, Folkestone, a 220-seat multi-purpose auditorium and cultural centre in the town’s heart, funded by a £3.5million Kent County Council grant and £500,000 from SEEDA.

Kent County Council’s Ashford shared space - with its open road, special lighting and unusual design features – picked up its 10 award by winning the town and village renaissance category.

Hythe architects CTM won the category award for schools with the new St Jamesthe Great primary and nursery school at East Malling.

The judges said the architects and the headteacher had devised a very clever school.

It differs from other schools with an open ‘learning street’ replacing the traditional corridor, and access to each classroom. This is a communal area where small groups can work, with low, curved walls to mark space.

Other winners were –commercial, industrial and retail: Dealpier cafe; residential (major development): The Quays, ChathamMaritime; minor development: El Ray, Dungeness.

Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter said: "This has been an exceptional year for the Kent Design Awards, with some outstanding entries.

"The Darnley Mausoleum has been a superb restoration project, with its fine workmanship, for an internationally important heritage project of which Kent can be proud.

“However, some ground-breaking contemporary buildings have also been recognised for their excellence and contribution to the quality of life in Kent.”

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