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RIBA House of the Year 2015: Winner & full shortlist in pictures

Flint House on the Rothschild family’s Waddesdon estate in Buckinghamshire has been named RIBA House of the Year 2015, picking up the Hiscox-sponsored accolade on a special edition of Channel...

Flint House on the Rothschild family’s Waddesdon estate in Buckinghamshire has been named RIBA House of the Year 2015, picking up the Hiscox-sponsored accolade on a special edition of Channel 4’s Grand Designs.

Commissioned by Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild and designed by architects Skene Catling De La Pena, the new-build triumphed after being showcased alongside six other architecturally-significant new homes.

Described by judges as a marvel of geological evolution and construction, Flint House is a celebration of location, material and architectural design at its best. Set in the flint-layered fields of the Rothschild’s estate at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, the building rises from the ground as dark, fashioned flint and slowly changes in construction and texture until its refined white chalk blocks disappear into the sky.

Whilst defined by its flint construction, the project is home to an intriguing and intelligent mixed application of rooftops, terraces and recesses that combine to deliver a stunning piece of liveable, provoking, modern architecture that marries into the earthly yet beautiful countryside.

RIBA President Jane Duncan: “The shortlist for the RIBA’s House of the Year represents a remarkable diversity of architectural skills and outcomes. I am delighted that Skene Catling De La Pena’s Flint House for Lord Rothschild has won this year’s prize. Although superbly original and unique, it continues a fine tradition of RIBA award-winning houses that provide exemplars for others: architects, clients and developers. Congratulations to all involved.”

House of the Year 2015: The Shortlist

  1. Flint House, Buckinghamshire by Skene Catling De La Pena
  2. Kew House, London by Piercy&Company
  3. Levring House, London by Jamie Fobert Architects
  4. Maghera, County Down by Mcgonigle McGrath
  5. (The) Mill, Scottish Borders by WT Architecture
  6. Sussex House, West Sussex by Wilkinson King Architects
  7. Vaulted House, London by vPPR Architects

Flint House, Buckinghamshire

By Skene Catling De La Pena: The house sits within the grounds of a wider estate and forms accommodation for visitors who include family members as well as artists. The building is split into two parts: the main house plus an annexe. The building is constructed of masonry with flint cladding. The project is a rare example of a poetic narrative whose realisation remains true to the original concept. The site is on a seam of flint geology and is surrounded by ploughed fields where the flint sits on the surface. The building is conceived as a piece of that geology thrusting up through the flat landscape. The innovation and beauty of the scheme is particularly evident in the detail of the cladding that starts at the base as knapped flint and slowly changes in construction and texture until it becomes chalk blocks at the highest point. This gives both a feeling of varying geological strata with the building dissolving as it reaches to the sky. The architects worked with a number of specialist and skilled craftsmen to achieve the end result. The development is part of a wider artistic project that has involved engagement with artists, photographers and musicians.

The Flint House, Waddesdon. Architect Charlotte Skene Catlingflint03jamesmorris_8538flint05jamesmorris_8534flint07jamesmorris_8519flint08jamesmorris_8515flint09jamesmorris_8561flint10jamesmorris_8509flint12jamesmorris_8490

Kew House, London

By Piercy&Company: This four bedroom family house is formed of two prefabricated weathering steel volumes inserted behind a retained nineteenth century stable wall. The layout is informal; rich with incidental spaces and unexpected light sources. A delicate, glazed circulation link reveals the contrast between a rustic exterior and refined interior. Split into two wings, the simple plan makes the most of a constrained site and responds to the living patterns of the young family. Completed in January 2014, Kew House was an experimental project, driven by the architect’s and clients’ shared interest in a ‘kit-of-parts’ approach, prefabrication, and the self-build possibilities emerging from digital fabrication.

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Levring House, London

By Jamie Fobert Architects: The spacious and luxurious house fills a corner plot of a typical London mews in Bloomsbury with a heady mix of free-flowing space, light filled voids, fastidious detailing and a brilliant regard for the surrounding context. Externally the building is finished with an elegant palette of Danish hand-made bricks, bronze panels and plenty of glazing to draw natural light into the heart of the house. Great care has been taken to respect the massing of adjacent buildings and sensitively turn the corner from Roger Street into Doughty Mews. A combination of alignments, setbacks and a sunken basement belie the true volume of the house, which includes a garage, extensive plant rooms housing the machinery for deep-bore ground source heat pumps and a delightful 14-m long marble lined lap pool in the basement.

The house is arranged as a series of volumes, which step around a central light-well, which climbs from the basement and is surrounded by full-height sliding glazing. The ground floor includes the entrance, an office, guest accommodation and the garage. The first floor combines a glorious double-height kitchen and dining space, which open onto a hidden terrace to the north, with a more intimate master bedroom overlooking the mews. On the top floor the building steps back out of view from the street with a more formal sitting room opening onto a south facing terrace. Internally the architecture is imbued with high quality materials and elegant detailing, which absorb light, are sensuous to the touch and beguiling to the eye. The concrete frame of the house is exposed in ceilings and columns and offset with timber floors, crafted joinery and plastered walls. This is architecture of sophistication and delight, crafted out of a tight and complex urban site with skill and panache. Complex volumes are rendered simple with a consistency of design approach to provide contemporary living space of the very highest calibre.

OCJH674_JFA_HOUSE_DAY2LevringHouse02DennisGilbert_8473LevringHouse03DennisGilbert_8475LevringHouse04DennisGilbert_8478LevringHouse06DennisGilbert_8486

House at Maghera, County Down

By Mcgonigle McGrath: This family house is on the edge of a clachan, a small grouping of farmsteads, on the leeward side of the stunning Mourne Mountains in County Down and is composed of two linear traditional building forms that continue the existing settlement pattern; each discrete form being displaced and slightly rotated in relation to its neighbour. The two forms are welded together by the extension of roof slopes. The resulting silhouette anchors the house to the ground and fixes it in the landscape. There is real talent and judgment at work here and a deftness of hand that goes far beyond a reimagined vernacular.

The front entrance yard has a cool tension reminiscent of the Mexican architect Luis Barragan, albeit without the colour, and is authentic in its context and meaning. The entrance hall leads to a music room, a trapezoidal volume complete with piano, and enclosed by a pair of folding and sliding barn doors. A guest bedroom to the east occupies the end gable of the shorter building form – a wonderful cavernous volume with a large singular window and timber planks for a floor. The longer range of west-facing living rooms with serried overhead bedrooms all gaze outwards at the Mournes. In the second living room the diagram is subverted by a tall clerestory window reaching through the first floor to scoop morning east-light into this otherwise west-facing space.

This is a family house providing an empathetic framework of beautiful spaces for its occupants, opportunistically using the site and appropriate technologies to achieve an eminently habitable and sustainable home. The quality of construction is very high, exemplary and demanding detailing executed with evident local skill and obvious pride (who said craft was dead?): a credit to architect, client and builder.

HouseMaghera101AidanMcGrath_10521 HouseMaghera104AidanMcGrath_10525 HouseMaghera105AidanMcGrath_10527 HouseMaghera106AidanMcGrath_10528 HouseMaghera108AidanMcGrath_10543 HouseMaghera109AidanMcGrath_10547 HouseMaghera110AidanMcGrath_10552

The Mill, Scottish Borders

By WT Architecture: Southside Steading is collection of disused farm buildings that nestles into a steep hill overlooking a valley in the Scottish Borders. The brief was to convert the mill to create a modern, rural holiday home that retained much of its historic character.

The mill’s distinctive long form emerging out of the hillside gives it a striking yet exposed position on the site and supported an architectural solution contained within the original walls. The old roof and floors were beyond repair, so a new insulated timber building was slotted into the existing structure, rising above the original wall to provide a largely glazed clerestory from where light could spill down into the lower floors. The dramatic level changes along the length of the building gave the opportunity to introduce half levels, and taller spaces, allowing light to move between the spaces and penetrate the tall cross-section of the building. The original front door is reused, entering into a boot room lined in larch. This opens on to a dining-hall with glimpses into the main living spaces beyond. Steps lead down a half level to the kitchen, which opens out to a wild garden. The main living space is half a level up from the dining-hall, with a new window overlooking the valley below. An accessible bathroom, utility and bedroom are tucked in the partially underground north end of the building. On the upper floor there are three bedrooms, two accessed from the west stair and one from the east stair, allowing a double-height space between to give light to the ground floor.

The original building was characterised by its forgiving mix of rural materials showing its previous historic adaptations. The original walls were consolidated and repaired using stone from the site, and re-pointed with lime mortar. Any new openings in the stonework were edged in galvanised steel and the new timber structure clad in black stained timber as subservient to the original walls.

This family house is on the edge of a clachan, a small grouping of farmsteads, on the leeward side of the stunning Mourne Mountains in County Down and is composed of two linear traditional building forms that continue the existing settlement pattern; each discrete form being displaced and slightly rotated in relation to its neighbour. The two forms are welded together by the extension of roof slopes. The resulting silhouette anchors the house to the ground and fixes it in the landscape. There is real talent and judgment at work here and a deftness of hand that goes far beyond a reimagined vernacular.

The front entrance yard has a cool tension reminiscent of the Mexican architect Luis Barragan, albeit without the colour, and is authentic in its context and meaning. The entrance hall leads to a music room, a trapezoidal volume complete with piano, and enclosed by a pair of folding and sliding barn doors. A guest bedroom to the east occupies the end gable of the shorter building form – a wonderful cavernous volume with a large singular window and timber planks for a floor. The longer range of west-facing living rooms with serried overhead bedrooms all gaze outwards at the Mournes. In the second living room the diagram is subverted by a tall clerestory window reaching through the first floor to scoop morning east-light into this otherwise west-facing space.

This is a family house providing an empathetic framework of beautiful spaces for its occupants, opportunistically using the site and appropriate technologies to achieve an eminently habitable and sustainable home. The quality of construction is very high, exemplary and demanding detailing executed with evident local skill and obvious pride (who said craft was dead?): a credit to architect, client and builder.

WTArchitecture_SouthsideSteading(c)AndrewLee_1A WTArchitecture_SouthsideSteading(c)AndrewLee_2 WTArchitecture_SouthsideSteading(c)AndrewLee_10

Sussex House, West Sussex

By Wilkinson King Architects: This stand-alone contemporary villa set in the Sussex countryside is an exceptional retreat. Externally the house is quietly confident, with its row of low-profile roof pyramids, windows positioned to take advantage of the views and a muted colour palette of materials. A lack of decoration and ornament gives this modern house a functional feel, but one that is cleverly considered to the very last detail. Internally the double-height void and staircase orchestrate the house, effortlessly, organising a contiguous open plan and cellular spaces into a simple but elegant arrangement. The over-sailing first floor produces the feeling of a quiet monastic cloister with sun-filled spaces and carefully framed views. There is much to admire about the project, and it is clear the designers have invested a lot of energy into guiding the project to have a crafted feel through modern materials and technologies. The design fulfils the brief and provides the clients with so much more.

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Vaulted House, London

By vPPR Architects: This family house, built on the walled site of a former taxi garage, is almost entirely hidden in the middle of a Victorian block in Chiswick. The approach is via a covered passage, beyond which is a brick-lined front porch. A recessed, chamfered surround for the front door hints at the geometric language of the house’s primary formal and spatial idea: a walled enclosure above which a cluster of six conjoined hipped roofs hovers enigmatically.The house is arranged so that on entry, one is poised between the two levels, with stairs leading up to the open-plan living level, and down to the lower level of bedrooms. The six roofs, each topped by a skylight, are lifted above the enclosing boundary wall. This creates a sense of weightlessness and a borrowed panorama of neighbouring gardens. The hipped roofs’ sloped planes join precisely to form a series of large coffers or ‘vaults’. These vaults spatially define and individually illuminate various parts of the open plan main living space; kitchen, dining and living areas. In two places, the vaulted roofs are absent, leaving two storey deep voids that act as garden courtyards for the basement level bedrooms and children’s playroom. Glazed walls slide back to expand the living space onto balconies that project into the voids, formed with perforated mesh. This material and its careful detailing creates beautiful shadows on pristine courtyard walls.

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Click any image for a slideshow

All images courtesy of Channel 4

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