2023 Master Builder Awards, Commercial or Public Sector Project
National winner: Stonewood Builders Ltd
With this outstanding project, Stonewood Builders Ltd delivered an ambitious full-sized replica of Hadspen Roman Villa, using ancient crafts, techniques and materials – the largest replica villa currently in the UK. They were also tasked with building a modern, minimalist museum building alongside the villa, to house the original archaeological and visitor displays.
This project was a real test of Stonewood’s ability to harness traditional craftmanship, whilst embracing the cutting edge of modern technology. The client commented: 'In the museum building we wanted to create things that had never been done before, whereas the reimagined villa building required elements that hadn’t been done in thousands of years. Stonewood was willing to research, learn, and explore as part of a team to achieve what we wanted.'
Features of the villa include hand-painted ceilings that use authentic materials, thatched roofs, wattle and daub, rammed earth, and even a working hypocaust heating system and bathing pools; this meant specialists from nearly every trade were required to be engaged in team meetings.
The steel framed museum has been designed in a contemporary style. A fully glazed 48 metre façade offers unobstructed views of the Roman Villa, with the standout internal feature being a glass bridge and balustrade offering visitors the chance to walk over and view the original ruins.
The national judges praised Stonewood’s willingness to learn and master traditional skills and crafts to create such an authentic historical replica. They were impressed by the team’s attention to detail in bringing together the traditional features and more modern requirements, as well as the management skills employed in nurturing and supporting the relationships that underpinned the project’s delivery.