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PrimeResi Quarterly Journal

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PRQ8

Current issue: Winter 2016/7

Houses of the Year: The 20 best new architect-designed homes in Britain

These 20 extraordinary new-builds and extensions will be subjected to Kevin McCloud's appraisal on Channel 4 later in the year

The Royal Institute of British Architects has announced the longlist for the 2016 RIBA House of the Year Award; these 20 extraordinary new-builds and extensions will be subjected to Kevin McCloud’s appraisal on Channel 4 later in the year but, in the meantime, here’s a pictorial tour of Britain’s finest new residences…

Amongst the homes in the running for the big House of the Year title (formerly known as the Manser Medal) are a contemporary part-house part-gallery on the beach in Brighton & Hove (The Narrow House), a Japanese inspired terraced house extension (House of Trace),  a new family home in Jersey rising from the huge granite walls of an earlier building on the site (Le Petit Fort),  a stunning beach house in Dungeness that echoes the areas former  fishing huts, an ingenious and contemporary take on a traditional lean-to in Harrogate (Contemporary Lean To) and a house in Cornwall that hovers dramatically over a cliff to take in the enviable views across the Fal Estuary (The Owers House).

RIBA’s judging jury this year are: Meredith Bowles, Mole Architects (jury chair); Charlotte Skene Catling, Skene Catling de la Peña; Jonathan Dallas, Dallas Pierce Quintero; Phillip Thorn, Head of Direct Home for Hiscox (sponsor), and Jenny Éclair, novelist, actress & client of the 2005 award-winning house.

The 20 best new architect-designed homes in Britain, according to RIBA, are:

Ansty Plum, Ansty

Ansty Plum_PressImage_Katie _Lock_2

  • RIBA region: South West & Wessex
  • Architect practice: Coppin Dockray
  • Date of completion: December 2014
  • Project city/town: Wiltshire
  • Contract value: £235,000.00
  • Internal area: 165.00 m²
  • Cost per m²:  £1,424.24 / m²
  • Contractor company name: J&C Symonds Ltd

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Tall Engineering
  • Environmental / M&E Engineers: Exeter University
  • Project Management: Andrew Townend
  • Lighting Design: Light Plan

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Small Project of the Year
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA National Award shortlist
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

Ansty Plum is a very special 20th century house, resurrected for viable modern living without damaging the spirit or the fabric of the original.  In the house what has been taken away, and what has not been added is as important as what has been rescued or retained. The building is now perhaps as close to its original form as at any time in its subsequent development and the removal of limited but unhappy accruals such as an en-suite shower room on the first floor platform were essential in re-setting the balance of the space. Careful thought has led to a building that is discretely and successfully heated, lit, insulated and serviced leaving the classic period interior intact and the house’s future assured. One could debate the change in atmosphere created by replacing the original brick floor to allow underfloor heating and service improvements, but the use of stock paving slabs surface-ground down to the aggregate is a clever and pleasing intervention that sits well in context. The house is modest and the viability initiative sensibly and sensitively looked elsewhere for ancillary accommodation.

The stone shell of the dilapidated Smithson designed studio adjacent to the house was inhabited to provide an accommodation annexe featuring bedroom, shower room and storage sub-space, sitting above a garage and store on the steeply sloping site. The apparent collapsed state of the building could perhaps have led to a slightly bolder, that is a less reverent, architecture but the rebuild is fastidiously faithful to the spirit of the original whilst adding considerable comfort and some delight. The space is lined with timber of a delicious hue to create an almost nostalgic atmosphere. Great care has been applied in detail throughout; a frameless and seamless door hung on a brass piano hinge opens to reveal a glass backed shower room overlooking a fern lined embankment in a typical example. This is an intimate gem of a space which complements the initiatives undertaken in the main house, as a skilfully crafted small project.

Contemporary Lean-to, Harrogate

Contemporary Lean-to_PressImage_Ruth_Donnelly_1

  • RIBA region: Yorkshire
  • Architect practice: Doma Architects
  • Date of completion: April 2015
  • Project city/town: Harrogate
  • Contract value: £101,800.00
  • Internal area: 66.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: £1,542.42 / m²
  • Contractor company name: Brookes Contracting

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Blue Sky Consulting

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Small Project of the Year
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

This delightful and ingenious project provides a direct connection between the ground floor and the basement and with the garden of a large Victorian semi-detached property in the Harrogate Conservation area. The only access to the garden was previously down steep external stone steps from the kitchen, which was dangerous for a young family. The basement rooms had already been converted by a former owner to habitable rooms, but were only used by the client as storage space due to their dark unwelcoming nature.

Doma Architects have enhanced the basement rooms and added a small extension to the side that encloses a new stair and provides a contemporary take on a traditional lean-to. It refers to the overhanging soffit and eaves’ details of the existing house with the glazed wall framed in a crisply detailed overhanging soffit. The extension is clad in matt black Marley Eternit fibre cement cladding, making a contemporary reference to the slates of the existing roof.

The project simply unlocks the potential of the whole house. The design draws the garden into the house and effectively creates a completely new floor of accommodation, producing a warm cosy environment for the family and fully meeting their brief. The under-stated name of the project does not begin to describe the transformative nature of the remodelled kitchen, dining, staircase to garden and the new connection of the basement rooms.

The removal of an existing internal staircase has freed up space to install a new utility area, playroom and sitting room overlooking the garden. The palette of materials of wide plank oak flooring, white plastered walls, rugs and built-in bookshelves offers the perfect solution.

If this is a ‘lean to’ then it is a beautifully esoteric one, based on simple geometries and accommodating a viewing gallery on to the stair with its own deep reveals. In sum it offers a modern twist on 21st century living, with beautiful angular glazed walls following the simple building form. The result is a little gem.

Contour House, Baslow

Contour House_PressImage_peter_landers_1

  • RIBA region: East Midlands
  • Architect practice: Sanei Hopkins Architects Ltd
  • Date of completion: March 2015
  • Project city/town: Baslow
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 1,083.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Elliott Wood Partnership
  • Environmental / M&E Engineers: Max Fordham
  • Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: MPA
  • Landscape & Ecology Consultants: The Landscape Partnership
  • Pool Consultants: Aqua Blue Designs

Jury Report

Contour House nestles in the rolling hills of the Peak District National Park, following the contours of the land to create a curving linear plan. This plan, with circulation zones either side of a series of open plan spaces, frames the landscape perfectly and provides a simple, elegant layout for a family home.

The brief was for a family home which was open, light and contemporary using high quality traditional materials and taking maximum advantage of the views towards Chatsworth to the south and Balsow Edge to the north east.

Externally the use of local stone flowing seamlessly from the walls to roof, creates a subtle contemporary vernacular that sits perfectly in its setting. The stone is the by-product of shallow excavations required for a new agricultural building at a nearby farm and was delivered and wholly sorted and processed on site. The stone surface is a protection to the membrane underneath and will weather over time to develop character in a similar way to the typical dry stone walls of the peak district.

The judges were particularly impressed by the efforts made by the architects and the client to source local materials and embed sustainable design principles in the project’s core. The house has been designed to meet the current and future needs of a young and growing family, minimise energy consumption, utilise both local and renewable materials where possible and generate electricity using the ground as its primary heating source. This is a thesis on how contemporary architecture can work within the setting of a nationally protected asset.

Covert House, Clapham

Covert House_PressImage_Christoffer_Rudquist_4

  • RIBA region: London
  • Architect practice: DSDHA
  • Date of completion: February 2014
  • Project city/town: Clapham
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 128.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: White Rock Engineering & Construction Limited

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Price & Myers
  • Environmental / M&E Engineers: Max Fordham
  • Enabling Architect (Construction): Knox Bhavan
  • Planning Consultant: Bennett Urban Planning
  • Metalwork: Creative Metalwork
  • Joinery: Big Egg Designs

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist
  • London South

Jury Report

As very busy architects Deborah Saunt and David Hills of DSDHA have had to wait a long time to design their own home – but the wait has been worthwhile. They have used it as a test-bed for their ideas on sustainability. Their experiments – carried out under restrictive Conservation Area planning conditions – resulted in an unorthodox, semi-underground house that challenges what it means to design a contemporary domestic space. The two-storey house is a simple composition of two interlocked white cubes, which is entirely shielded from street view. The planners limited to a single-storey height so DSDHA had to half bury the house. The exterior presents itself as a low-rise, lightweight architectural piece of architecture, clad in white render, with chamfered mirror reveals. The house also has to follow strict rules to reduce over looking from neighbouring gardens: it has a stepped roof line in section so it is lower close to garden boundaries, from which it is set back clear from on all sides.

Covert House is indeed a case study on the potential for unlocking backland sites and creating architectural opportunities that subtly densify our residential areas and respond to the urban necessity of building more houses close to the city centre. Allowing for more well designed houses to be built in existing private backland sites may also be a way for people to develop the assets they own and live in, while also releasing some of their equity.

This is an exquisitely crafted home, with every detail and material carefully thought through; a beautiful space that is immediately calming and exciting. The exposed in-situ concrete interior gives the project a unique identity; whilst evidently structural it is also delicate, beautifully detailed and finely executed. The mirror façade softens the edges of the building and allows it to sit playfully within the surrounding garden context.

The site strategy is a brilliant response to planning issues, providing a model for sensitive densification, and achieving a very good-looking house.

Edge Hill, Newcastle upon Tyne

Edge Hill_PressImage_Sutherland Hussey Harris_Architects_4

  • RIBA region: North East
  • Architect practice: Sutherland Hussey Harris
  • Date of completion: June 2015
  • Project city/town: Darras Hall
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 360.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: David Sparham Ltd

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Patrick Parsons

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional/RSAW Client of the Year
  • Regional/RSAW Building of the Year
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

Peaking over the gates along an avenue in the Darras Hall leafy estate is a glimpse of an elegant and bold new private family home. The building footprint is pulled back from the street edge, sitting as a separate entity, respecting the estate’s bylaws. With a rectilinear concrete base, a timber slatted screen wraps around as a lid, unifying the form as a single volume. This creates the most uplifting triple height space below along the entire length of the house, which is brought to life with light, shadows and beautiful materials.

Looking into the void is an animated backdrop of rooms. On the ground floor the entrance lobby first leads to a snug. On moving through the generous hallway the space opens out to breathtaking views of the garden and beyond, framed by large expanses of glazing. To the upper levels a complex series of bedrooms, bathrooms, terraces and an office are combined. The spaces are carefully located to allow the volume of the external skin to be legible. The result is an uncluttered, spacious and serene home.

This is a daring design for the area where the land is managed and protected by the Darras Hall Committee. The Architect has managed to combine the ambitions of the client with the strict objectives of the committee as well as the local Planning authority.

The jury was particularly impressed with the vision, determination and hands on approach of the client. Having worked with the contractor previously, the client meticulously worked through details himself with precision and care, resolving difficult junctions, even testing the weathering of the timbers. Nothing has been left to chance, with side tables, beds and furniture being made bespoke.

This house combines the skills and craftsmanship of the architect with a highly driven client and outstanding contractor who will no doubt now be in demand.

Garden House, Hackney

HAC DALSTON

  • RIBA region: London
  • Architect practice: Hayhurst and Co.
  • Date of completion: April 2015
  • Project city/town: London
  • Contract value: £307,000.00
  • Internal area: 102.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: £3,009.80 / m²
  • Contractor company name: Woodbar

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Techniker Ltd
  • Party Wall Surveyor: Arun Associates

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist
  • London East

Jury Report

The Garden House replaces a single storey workshop built by the Clients in the mid 1990s. The brief was to form a home and studio; which maximised the space and natural light available within their tight 85 square metre site behind Victorian housing in Hackney’s de Beauvoir Conservation area.

The house is entered through a winter garden flooded with top-light from a mirror-polished stainless steel clad rooflight. This leads on to a connected set of living spaces lit by natural light through strategically placed and sculptured rooflights. These give the ground floor an ethereal quality of light, which sets off the careful selected material palette. The clients’ art collection is displayed on bespoke steel shelves that continue on to a folded steel staircase that is carefully disengaged from the wall, to allow natural light to pass behind it. The upper room is lined with oak panelling, forming a workshop for sewing and embroidery, as well as a fitting room for visiting clients. This space is naturally lit from a large central rooflight.

The roof is a bespoke hanging garden, formed by refined, lapped, and elegant stainless steel trays hung over a GRP membrane. 800 sedums and heathers are planted into the stepped beds. They replicate the character of the planting and fauna of Dungeness where the owners also have a second home. Neighbours must be delighted with their views down onto this unusual stepped roof garden.

The Jury was captivated with the exquisite detailing that went into this house. The architects have skilfully created a rich and layered experience in a very small space. It gives the owners a peaceful and private space to live and work, which is a real achievement given the overlooked and enclosed nature of the site.

House 19, Old Amersham

House 19_PressImage_Grant_Smith_2

  • RIBA region: South
  • Architect practice: Jestico + Whiles
  • Date of completion: December 2015
  • Project city/town: Old Amersham
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 245.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: SK Contracts Management

Consultants 

  • Sustainability consultant: XCO2 Energy Ltd.
  • Structural Engineers: Ellis + Moore
  • Mechanical Installation: Be Green Systems

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

This is a very ordinary site on the corner of two roads, sitting amid a motley and mundane collection of suburban housing, so it is remarkable that the house was initially refused planning permission. But it does at least demonstrate that the appeal process works.

House 19 is designed as a two storey dwelling. However, careful consideration has been given to the impact of the building on the site by expressing the two storeys on the north-east elevation, and reducing the height on the southern elevation to a single storey by means of an eccentrically pitched roof form. The advantage of such a form is that it minimises the impact on the adjoining property to the south. And the southerly roof can be used to maximise the incorporation of photovoltaic cells both now and in the future – integration is subtle and elegant.The sustainability strategy is well thought through and works (ground source heat pump, earth tube vent system, low U-values) without resort to a room full of technology.

It has a planted ecology roof which will be a visual amenity when seen from the properties on the west side.

From the moment of arrival, you sense the quality of what lies within: the beautifully detailed corten canopy and the flint work are exceptional. This is a house with many layers that are gradually revealed. The architect/client has evidently lived and breathed this project but has exercised incredible rigour and control. Everything is considered. The views are composed and well-considered, the quality of light is superb and the sense of proportion results in a series of spaces that are inspiring. One suspects that this is a building that reveals more and more upon examination.

This is a local and collaborative building – everyone who has been involved has given of their best. It is a mature architecture that does not need to shout. It is modest like its client/architect yet achieves serenity and is joyous. This is the antithesis of coffee table architecture – it works brilliantly for its occupants – and it definitely needs to be experienced. The jury unreservedly loved this house.

House of Trace, Lewisham

House of Trace_PressImage_Tim_Croker _1

  • RIBA region: London
  • Architect practice: Tsuruta Architects
  • Date of completion: January 2015
  • Project city/town: London
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 110.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: Karas, Zarzyczny Vasylyuk  (a team formed for the project)

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: TALL consulting structural engineers

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • RIBA National Awards
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA National Award shortlist
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist
  • London South

Jury Report

The demolition of the original extension and its replacement called for an intervention that can be read as a part of the original main building without replicating classical vocabulary or gesture. Trace House represents the merging of two cultures (British and Japanese). The architects wanted to keep a sense of everyday memory, while simultaneously allowing the new intervention to have its own identity. The original extension had no distinct historical or architectural value, and was structurally unsound, but it had a sloop roof profile typical of those found in terrace house back gardens. The architects chose to incorporate this banality in the new face of the rear garden – in a way persevering its charm to carry some sense of associated memory to those who know it or those who see it new.

Trace house is a surprising and delightful rethink of the terraced house extension. The play between old and new creates intriguing and playful spatial relationships within the house. The central void, marking the split between the old and new, forms a focal point where living and communal spaces have a direct connection to the sleeping and private spaces upstairs.

The master bedroom in the new extension is beautifully detailed and thought out. Unusually, the space has light from two sides, an external window looking to the garden and an internal window looking across the central void and  into the child’s bedroom, creating a unique sense of light and space within what might otherwise be a fairly conventional room.

This is a very clever project, which brings an entirely fresh approach to the terraced house/ extension typology, and indeed an inventive and exciting approach to conservation. Age, patina and even structural faults are lovingly preserved and deftly combined with bold abstraction. One of the existing walls had been leaning at a displacement of about one brick thick towards an adjacent building. These significant old movements were registered as cracks on the leaning wall and have now been revealed and retained within the corridor.

Le Petit Fort, Jersey

Le Petit Fort_PressImage_Edmund_Sumner_2

  • RIBA region: South East
  • Architect practice: Hudson Architects
  • Date of completion: December 2015
  • Project city/town: Jersey
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 471.70 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: Mitchell Construction Group

Consultants

  • Carpentry: Everwood Ltd
  • Structural Engineers: Ross-Gower Associates
  • Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: Tillyard
  • Environmental / M&E Engineers: Henderson Green Partnership 

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

The architects, Hudson Architects, modestly describe this as an ‘outstanding new family home’.  Fortunately, it is.

Set within the retained walls of an earlier building, Le Petit Fort offers an imaginative response to its setting and historical context through carefully considered contemporary architecture, a rich materials palette and fine craftsmanship. Le Petit Fort occupies the site of an earlier (now demolished) farmstead. This was constructed in the early 20th century and enclosed within massive granite walls, which have been retained and restored and which offer much needed shelter from the elements experienced only metres from the unforgiving Jersey shoreline. The reference to Napoleonic Martello towers and WWII fortifications is unavoidable, and indeed intentional; so much so that this large house could be mistaken as part of that military collection from a distance. In fact, the house was conceived to complete the concept of the ‘fort’ by building the missing fourth wall of the enclosure and creating a central element representing a ‘keep’. This three-storey entrance block, like the perimeter walls, is constructed from Jersey granite, reclaimed from the earlier building.

The whole design is intelligent and confident.  Designed as a pair of accommodation wings rotated around a helical stair, the house is contained by the granite walls (part original, part new) which provide a reassuring wrap around the whole complex.  The granite keep pops up from the ‘hinge’, containing guest accommodation and a study with an outlook to die for.

The juxtaposition of natural materials set against highly engineered surfaces is always an emotive counterpoint, and here is no exception.  Precision Corten and Iroko are used as cladding materials to complement glazing and in contrast to the granite blocks (much of them reclaimed from this site and laid as well as granite ever has a right to be – a real Channel Island craft).  The house opens up at expected and unexpected moments, with large sliding doors finding their temporary homes inside unseen wall pockets.

Modern Mews, London

Modern Mews_PressImage_Timothy_Soar_5

  • RIBA region: London
  • Architect practice: Coffey Architects
  • Date of completion: November 2015
  • Project city/town: London
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 112.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: Woods London LTD

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Morph Structures
  • Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: Stockade UK
  • Building Control: Head Projects
  • Fire Safety: Rapidrop

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist
  • London West

Jury Report

The challenges involved in making a home from an existing mews house enclosure are two-fold – firstly to carve a useful space from a small site of approximately three by eight metres and secondly to bring light into what is a single aspect building. Effectively, it is an intricately designed and constructed piece of joinery crafted to live in.

The existing four storey mews house suffered from a dark interior due to only having windows to the front despite being 8m deep. The master bedroom and en-suite on lower ground enjoyed no natural light and the bedrooms on top floors felt disconnected and underused due to the tiny spiral stair at the rear of the building.

Coffey Architects moved the stair to the centre to avoid corridors taking up valuable space and approached the whole project as one large piece of joinery adding clarity to the and connectivity to the whole house. At the centre a stair pierces four floors of accommodation in a spectacular burst of light. This staircase is also the organisational structure bringing a rationale to the planning and layout of the house. Its open treads in connection with the glazed landings and the glazed roof above allow natural lighting to enter at the centre of the plan. Additionally translucent sliding doors are added so the rooms enjoy natural light even when the doors are closed. The living area and the master bedroom and en-suite has been swapped around. A glass floor has been introduced to the front of the house on the ground floor allowing natural light to the living room on the lower ground.

The detailing is exquisite, the warmth of the oak timber brings a tactile quality which is further enhanced by the sliding doors, which with an inner layer of rice-paper sets up illusionary views across the plan. The glass-floored light wells further enhance the illusion of depth and perspective as one moves vertically through the house. The white painted textured inner brick skin helps with the refraction of the light, adding to a kaleidoscope effect. This lining cleverly conceals many of the services.

A fine marriage of planning, control of light and rigorous detailing has very cleverly multiplied the use of space to create a family home well beyond the client’s aspirations.

North Vat, Dungeness

Rodic Davidson Architects North Vat

  • RIBA region: South East
  • Architect practice: Rodic Davidson Architects
  • Date of completion: October 2014
  • Project city/town: Dungeness
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 114.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: Eco-Librium Solutions Ltd

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Ten Design Ltd
  • Services Engineer: Eco-Librium Solutions Ltd

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

This house is the latest in a series of new homes at Dungeness.  The trend for inhabiting the beach was set by Derek Jarman with his garden at Prospect Cottage, and since then architects have taken inspiration from the open, often bleak, beach to design new occasional homes.  This house, by Rodic Davidson Architects, is one of the best in the collection.

The architects had previously worked with the clients on the refurbishment of their London home. Here, the brief was to create a single living environment, allowing for entertainment, enjoyment and art. This was to be a calm and simple space where everyday activities could co-exist and all aspects of the surrounding landscape could be observed. There was no question about replacing the existing fisherman’s cottage and the form was conceived as a cluster of small shed-like structures, referential to the local vernacular of pitched roof huts scattered along the beach front. The plan form of the proposed cluster was derived from the locations of the existing cottage and sheds, minimally adjusted to provide a simple living layout whilst maintaining a low impact on the ground ecology and sustaining the sense of randomness that was found in the original buildings.

The resulting house alludes to these familiar influences and even mimics some recent nearby homes (some of which are award winners themselves), but does so in a manner which is arguably truer to the original precedent of dark stained beach hut or ‘net shop’. The jury was persuaded by the ambiguity of ‘one home’ versus ‘a cluster of sheds’ approach, and won over by the intimate relationship between designers and client which has resulted in a finely-judged balance of high architecture and comfortable beach living.

Despite the temptation to celebrate the panorama of the vast beach and seascape, views are framed judiciously like pictures at seating- and standing-height, providing a sequence of selected connections to the outside.  Only in the circulation spaces between the ‘sheds’ is that connection seamless, with frameless glass taking one within millimetres’ distance of the frequently harsh external elements. As the architects suggest, ‘walking in and out of the rooms feels like walking in and out of the landscape’.

Each Dungeness black box has to be measured on its own merits, but this particular synthesis of client aspiration, site character, and thoughtful detailing left this year’s jury feeling very comfortable with its decision.

OutHouse, Forest of Dean

OutHouse_PressImage_CHARLES_HOSEA_5

  • RIBA region: South West & Wessex
  • Architect practice: Loyn & Co Architects
  • Date of completion: January 2015
  • Project city/town: Brockweir
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 490.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: Forest Eco Systems Ltd

Consultants

  •  Structural Engineers: WL2 Ltd.
  • Landscape Architects: Morgan Henshaw
  • Environmental / M&E Engineers: Vitec

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional/RSAW Building of the Year
  • RIBA National Awards
  • Regional Award Short List
  • Stirling Prize Mid List
  • RIBA National Award shortlist
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

The Outhouse is located on a fabulous sloping plot in the Forest of Dean running beside Offa’s Dyke, with long views to the Wye Valley and Severn Estuary. The design exploits the site potential to the full with a discrete design that beds into the site literally and metaphorically, finely balancing respect to context with confident architectural expression. The simplicity of the house, which was undoubtedly hard-won, is founded on rigour and restraint. This is a house with a field on top – not an ‘architectural’ green roof but a proper field, punctured with light wells that creatures are having to learn to avoid. It is a concrete house where the concrete feels warm and luxurious and a considered and crafted palette of surfaces form a backdrop for the artist-owners’ own refined art and furniture.

The design eloquently and effortlessly tackles many familiar issues; the blurred relationship between interior and exterior space, the penetration of light into a deep single aspect plan, the control of sustainability without flaunting it.

The key architectural device is a rigorous plan organisation separating studio and working spaces on the uphill side and glass fronted living spaces on the downhill side to take advantage of spectacular views. The building’s backbone is a linear circulation space driven through the plan perpendicular to the site slope, with the front door at one end and Wales at the other. The entrance is a modernist set-piece with a covered approach flanked by a black pigmented concrete pavilion and a simple solid open stair running through a rectangular puncture in the roof plane.  Channelled views through the glass door reveal the spine, active as a gallery space opens to and illuminated by the living space on the downslope side. Fleeting glimpses of the retired owner’s traversing the house on micro-scooters confirmed the very definite feeling that we wanted to enter. To misquote Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire: ‘they had us at “Hello”.’

Private House 1109, Cheshire

Private House 1109_PressImage_Charlie_Coleman_3

  • RIBA region: North West
  • Architect practice: GA Studio Architects
  • Date of completion: March 2015
  • Project city/town: Cheshire
  • Contract value: £300,000.00
  • Internal area: 200.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: £1,500.00 / m²
  • Contractor company name: Dales Contracts and Halls Builders

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Bell Munro Consultants
  • Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: The Beaumont Partnership
  • Approved Inspector: Active Building Control
  • Timber Frame Manufacturer: Build-a-kit
  • Window Manufacturer: Greensteps
  • Environmental / M&E Engineers: Dales Renewables and ADM Systems

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Small Project of the Year
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

Nestled amongst a typical suburban mix of housing this carefully crafted scheme was a pleasure to visit. Designed for a young family in Cheshire this new four bedroom house had a strong brief from the outset – to not only design to passivhaus standards but to create an interesting and comfortable modern home. A modest budget and tightly constrained site did not restrict the architect but instead provided some of the key drivers to delivering something special for a client that had a clear vision of wanting something that worked for their family, rather than a standard solution.

The spaces are not “over-designed” but instead allow the family to inhabit and adapt to make them even more comfortable and welcoming. This logical flow of space extends to the outside areas where despite the close proximities to the boundaries the careful framing of views and maximisation of space gives the impression of a much larger plot.

This building is above all award winning because the modest budget and typical context gives hope to those who are not fabulously wealthy or in elite neighbourhoods that excellent architect led design is within reach.

Private House, Cumbria

1112 Mill Brow

  • RIBA region: North West
  • Architect practice: Bennetts Associates
  • Date of completion: August 2015
  • Project city/town: Camforth
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 386.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: Duckett Building Services

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: David Narro Associates
  • Environmental / M&E Engineers: Max Fordham LLP
  • Planning Consultant: Gerald Eve
  • Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: Bushell Raven
  • District Council Office / Conservation: South Lakeland District Council

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • RIBA National Awards
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA National Award shortlist
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

The only shame about this project is that not many people will be able to experience it. The context of a heavily constrained Cumbrian market town with a very active conservation lobby is not where you would expect to find support for such an essay in contemporary domestic architecture. The architect worked hard to clearly demonstrate how their pavilion design for the site would, despite being more contemporary, be a far better “fit” for the town than the higher density pastiche units that were originally given planning permission.

The design arranges the bedrooms and a guitar workshop in an L-shape around a walled garden at ground level. A planted roof continues the slope of the ground above, giving the effect of a ‘ha ha’, with stone walls unifying the ground floor into the characteristic topography of terraces and retaining walls. There is quality in abundance here, but the building does not shout or present as being ostentatious – it is a very good neighbour. The planning of this upside-down house takes full advantage of the spectacular views afforded to it, whilst maximising privacy within a very tight urban fabric. The high quality of workmanship is evident from the natural stone walling through to the bespoke carpentry within the living spaces.

This is a house that despite its design credentials and high quality of materials, still feels like a home that could and should be lived in. This is a place that allows people to connect with an inspirational setting without compromise or reversion to stereotypes. It is very worthy of an RIBA Award.

Murphy House, Edinburgh

Richard Murphy Architects_Murphy House (c) Keith Hunter

  • RIBA region: Scotland
  • Architect practice: Richard Murphy Architects
  • Project city/town: Edinburgh

Jury report

This project is a rare example of construction of a contemporary house within the World Heritage Site of the New Town of Edinburgh.  It is a house designed by Richard Murphy for his own use and is consequently something of an architectural and environmental experiment. There are a number of agendas at work.

Firstly, with a modest floor area of 165 m2 on a footprint of only 11 metre x 6 metre, (formerly half of a garden to an apartment on Forth Street), it nevertheless  contains three bedrooms, a living/dining/kitchen area at varying levels, study, basement storage, garage, utility room and roof terrace.

Secondly, it is an essay in how contemporary design might contribute to a historic and particular place in the New Town, in this instance an unresolved junction of two streets.  The adjacent gable end should not have been exposed and the house deliberately responded by becoming a “bookend” to it, with its front façade continuing the stonework pattern of the street façade.

Thirdly, the house had to preserve the privacy and sky views from the adjacent apartment and this contributed to the bookend section.

Fourthly, there is a very strong energy agenda in the new house.  The roof consists of photovoltaic cells and substantial south-facing glazing.  Underneath this are mechanised insulated shutters allowing the glass to generate heat when open but preventing it radiating heat when closed.  A computerised internal air circulation system takes warm air from the top of the house to the basement via a gravel rock store to produce a delayed heat source for evening use.  The main heating source for the house is a 150 metres deep ground source borehole connecting to a heat exchanger which feeds under-floor heating. All the major windows to the house have insulated shutters.  Rainwater which follows a course of pools and waterfalls on the roof terrace finds it way to grey-water storage tanks in the basement and is then used to flush toilets and supply a sprinkler system.  Heat is extracted from the flue of a log burning stove to pre-heat hot water.

A final agenda is the  many architectural influences at work.  Not least is the work of Carlo Scarpa, on whom Richard Murphy is an authority. The roof terrace is a homage to the garden of the Querini Stampalia in Venice using the same exposed aggregate walls and sourcing tiles from Scarpa’s original manufacturer in Venice.  Internally, the Venetian “stucco lucido” coloured plasterwork is used extensively. The Sir John Soane Museum and the Maison de Verre are also great influences in the use of illusion and moving elements.  Reitveld’s Schroder house makes an appearance in a “disappearing corner” stone panel opening, designed to be the same proportions as his famous window.

The design was recommended refusal by Edinburgh City Council Planning Department but Councillors voted  to reject this  advice and allowed construction to go ahead. Since its completion  the Architect’s Journal have named it their “House of the Year 2015”, it has won a Saltire Award for the best new house in Scotland  and is currently shortlisted for a Civic Trust National Award.

The Cheeran House, Reading

The Cheeran House_PressImage_james_morris_1

  • RIBA region: South
  • Architect practice: John Pardey Architects
  • Date of completion: March 2015
  • Project city/town: Reading
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 284.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: self build

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Barton Engineers
  • Environmental / M&E Engineers: IsoEnergy

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • RIBA National Awards
  • Regional Award Short List
  • Stirling Prize Mid List
  • RIBA National Award shortlist
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

The house sits between two worlds – a courtyard and a walled garden. The design is based on the desire to enjoy both a south facing aspect, yet also engage with the walled garden to the north. The house therefore becomes part of the rebuilt wall, part of the walled garden. With the overall height strictly controlled by planning restrictions and the site rising by two metres from front to back, the inner courtyard is part-sunk into the ground, increasing the sense of enclosure.

This is a serene and relatively modest house that suits its owner and its site. It is rigorously articulated. The result is a home that unfolds and creates some beautiful reflective spaces with excellent use of light, in particular the first floor corridor space with low-level windows to overcome any overlooking issues.

The landscaping wraps around the house and the retention of the historic wall helps to create a sense of place and orientation. The new flint walls emphasise continuity with the landscape, and cutting into the slope adds to this impression. The old kitchen garden is left to meadow which gives the new and old both space to breathe.

While entirely contemporary, the architects have relished using natural materials that will weather well, so the ground floor walls are faced in flint (pre-cast in blocks) to pay respect to a Grade II Listed old schoolhouse next door, except where it becomes part of the walled garden where it reverts to brick. Porcelain tiled floors amplify the indoor–outdoor connection. The house runs on a bored ground source heat pump system which, along with MVHR and rooftop PV panels, exports more energy than it consumes. However, a wood-fired stove is provided to give the house a heart, making the house a home.

Within its locality this is an entirely fitting, contextual and elegant response. It is a peaceful house with beautiful use of light and space. This results in a very good building indeed.

The Narrow House, Brighton & Hove

The Narrow House_PressImage_Peter_Landers_3

  • RIBA region: South East
  • Architect practice: Sanei Hopkins Architects Ltd
  • Date of completion: January 2015
  • Project city/town: Portslade
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 159.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: Chalmers & Co

Consultants 

  • Structural Engineers: Elliott Wood Partnership LLP
  • Environmental / M&E Engineers: PCS Consulting Services Ltd
  • Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: Listers Chartered Quantity Surveyors

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

This project is, without question, an exemplar of a private client-architect collaboration: in fact, it is impossible to imagine it resulting from any other combination.  Built on the footprint of the owners’ single garage and squeezed between neighbours, the house is idiosyncratic to the point of eccentricity.

The cool exterior does not prepare one for the assault on the senses that the privilege of an invitation inside brings (save for a striking sculpture peeping over the balcony and coloured lasers overhead in the front porch).  The house is part home, part look-out and part gallery for an outstanding collection of artwork and sculptures.  Many of the latter are kinetic, responding to noise or movement, adding an additional sense of life to the space.

John Soane’s influence purveys the house, with every conceivable inch of space utilised to exhibit or store this unique collection. Given the labyrinthine nature of the house, the main circulation is reassuringly simple, with a single stair climbing from the front door with living and sleeping accommodation organised to one side.  Even the stair treads are laser cut to spell out the shipping forecast in Morse code for the observant visitor.  At the end of the upward journey is a roof terrace (itself also a mini sculpture park) with breathtaking views out to sea.

Due to the geography of the region, protection from the elements became a recurring theme of this year’s visits.  This house not only fronts a constantly-moving shingle beach, it sits below it.  Hence, the high level-window sills of the lower floor bedroom are at beach level, reminding one of Lutyens’ eye-level tricks at Castle Drogo.

All in all, this project is a labour of love, both for the architects and the client.  In Sanei Hopkins Architects, the owners have found their spiritual partners.

The Owers House, Feock

The Owers House_PressImage_james_morris_2

  • RIBA region: South West & Wessex
  • Architect practice: John Pardey Architects
  • Date of completion: December 2014
  • Project city/town: Feock
  • Contract value: confidential
  • Internal area: 282.00 m²
  • Cost per m²: confidential
  • Contractor company name: P Chapman Construction Ltd

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Momentum Engineering

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist

Jury Report

The house is accessed along a steep and narrow approach road that gives rise to speculation of the views that might reward the ascent. In fact, anticipation of the view cannot match the reality. This house is planned around enviable views across the Fal Estuary, and required bold architectural manoeuvres to properly exploit them.

The street facing façade is modest in context with an apparently single storey building revealing itself to be the upper half of a two storey block set hard against a steep escarpment. The blue-black timber clad upper floor sits on a blond brick base; a composition with an evident and enjoyable flavour of 20th century Scandinavian modernism.  A simple plan arrangement places an L shaped piano nobile over a rectangular lower level block that follows the orientation of the street and the garden behind. The first floor plan turns the accommodation to take in extraordinary views along the estuary. As the site falls sharply away, the living space hovers dramatically over the garden, in a gestural but entirely logical reaction to a challenging site. The jury was impressed by the vertiginous drama of the piece but also by the care taken to maintain the seaward views of upstream neighbours to retain their without compromise.

The processional entrance to the house is highly enjoyable and must never fail to make the owners happy to return home.  It begins on a timber clad bridge extruded from the upper storey to span the void to the door .Entering the house onto a first floor stair landing a fully glazed double height wall beyond pulls the viewers gaze downwards and out to the terraced garden, and to those in the know, the hidden form of Team 4’s seminal Creek Vean below.  The plan is simply organised and highly disciplined- the double height entrance hall separating bedrooms and studies in the main block from living spaces in the return. It is the main living space sailing high across the tumbling garden that is the stand-out moment but the jury found much to applaud throughout this architecturally aware and thoughtful house.

Tin House

Tin House_PressImage_Luke_Caulfield_2

  • RIBA region: London
  • Architect practice: Henning Stummel Architects
  • Date of completion: December 2015
  • Client company name: Henning Stummel Architects
  • Project city/town: London
  • Contract value: £733,620.00
  • Internal area: 216.20 m²
  • Cost per m²: £3,393.25 / m²
  • Contractor company name: Art & Design

Consultants

  • Structural Engineers: Michael Hadi Associates, Ltd.

Awards

  • RIBA Regional Award
  • Regional Award Short List
  • RIBA House of the Year longlist
  • London West

Jury Report

The back land site of the Tin House is entered from a modest London street through a ‘massive’ Soanian brick double-height arch – a gateway to a remarkable domestic inner world.

Creating a secluded place was a priority. The architects’ response was to develop a low, inward-looking, tranquil courtyard that is open to the south yet offers privacy, both visual and acoustic. The design is a composition of different pavilions: six earth-coloured metal-clad pyramidal top-lit forms. The cladding is a warm earthy colour, which is in dialogue with the surrounding stock brick buildings. This modest and utilitarian finish accentuates the monolithic and sculptural quality of the design. A calm rectangular pool of water allows for condensation cooling and the sun’s reflections from the water bring the fac¸ades to life. Each pavilion accommodates a room. The roof shape has a low contour and maximizes spatial volume. This source of light from above brings the spaces to life. The roof-lights can be opened and on warm days the stack effect ensures that fresh cool air is drawn in from above the pool. The Pantheon and the work of James Turrell have influenced the design of the top lit pavilions.

As one moves through the building the layout gives a changing enfilade of vistas and views, the geometric forms accentuated by the simple utilitarian finishes. The brick fireplace mirrors the entrance gateway in its scale and texture and acts as a ‘touchstone’ at the heart of the composition, grounding the house around a hearth.

The pavilions are super- insulated (250 mm of PU foam) and relatively airtight. A heat-recovery air system ensures energy efficient ventilation throughout the colder months.

Full of inventiveness, the cleverly detailed thick walls contain the services. The house has a beautiful balance of delight and is obviously an uplifting and practical place to live. The judges were all equally moved, delighted and inspired by this unexpected back-land jewel.

Zinc House, Angus

02 LJRH Zinc House (c) Mark O'Connor - South West View

  • RIBA region: Scotland
  • Architect practice: LJR+H Chartered Architects
  • Project city/town: near Monikie, Angus

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