Design Histories


Aydon Castle, Northumberland
June - Oct 2022

Re-imagining Aydon is an exhibiton of works created in response to the history, setting and atmosphere of Aydon Castle.

Aydon Castle sits in an idyllic rural setting, perched above a deeply wooded ravine. The castle – one of the best-preserved fortified manor houses in the country – dates back to the 13th century and has witnessed wars and invasion in an area of the country that saw border conflict between the English and Scots. In more recent years, the castle became a family home before being taken into the custody of English Heritage in 1966.

Over the course of a year, designers made repeated visits to the site, observing the castle in changing conditions. The design process was intentionally slow, taking time to develop the ideas in response to visiting the site during different seasons. The rural location was also important, celebrating the vernacular and the inspiration of the surrounding nature. 

The work was informed by historical research through documentary evidence together with discussion with historians and curators. At the same time, the project involved a process of imaginative engagement with the building to create objects that are contemporary yet speak to the history of the site.

We refer to the resulting objects as ‘hybrids’ in the way that they combine contemporary and historical elements. In some cases, we have taken historical typologies and interpreted them as modern forms. Other objects abstract directly from the fabric of the building itself – taking masonry features such as corbels and door lintels as inspiration. The materiality of the building has also informed a distinctive aesthetic shown by many of the pieces.

Design Histories Working Group