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Manser Medal shortlist: Rockmount by ShedKM

Rockmount, Wirral by ShedKM. Photography by Jack Hobhouse

Rockmount is a house on the Wirral for a family with four children. Their dream was to build a home close to extended family, but also with a connection to the sea and an outdoor lifestyle.

After much searching, the client chanced upon Rockmount, an existing, undistinguished house in a poor state of repair with a large wooded garden. It was in an elevated position, surrounded by National Trust land and with views out over the Dee estuary, Welsh hills and Irish Sea.

The site, in a conservation area, is unique in the locality. The existing house was situated on the brow of the hill, enjoying fantastic views, but was also a prominent building when viewed from a distance. The site of a historic quarry, outcrops of red sandstone jut out of the garden in various locations. This stone became part of the material palette of the new house, as it provided a connection with the local geology.

The house aimed to suit a family with progressive views on design, give fantastic views from the living areas, and make the most of the topography of the site. In addition, it had to limit its visual impact when viewed from the coastline.


ShedKM has an affinity with the geometric form, massing, spatial layout and connection to landscape exemplified by the Case Study Houses. This aligned with the clients’ aspirations, and reflected their Antipodean upbringing. A long, low built form was developed and orientated east-west, jutting out of the crest of the hill and reaching out to the view. This element contained the living spaces - positioned in the most exposed location - with sleeping spaces for the children facing the garden. Below, set into the hillside, ancillary spaces were laid out, and a play space and a guest suite in a remote corner providing privacy.

Adjacent to the main wing, balanced upon a sandstone retaining wall and accessed via a glass bridge, is the master bedroom with interconnecting study that forms a quiet, calm workspace, while maintaining views across the rugged land and seascape. The sandstone wall also determines the location of the pool and dining terrace with barbecue, which is set into a recess in the side of the house. The structure is a pair of exposed in situ concrete flat slabs, supported on concrete columns.

Greg Blee, associate, ShedKM

See who else made the 2013 Manser Medal shortlist here.

Judges’ citation

The site is an extraordinary elevated mound with views towards the setting sun across the river Dee to the north Wales coast. Shed KM’s ingenious response is a new take on a classic, modern linear house plan.

Two linear blocks rotated at 90° to each other divide the house efficiently and cleverly into four zones: children’s rooms, pool, master suite and study, and fully glazed living area.

The impact of the house is disguised with a sandstone semi-buried ground-floor plinth allowing the upper accommodation to float over the garden and surrounding landscape. With a few nods in the direction of America’s west coast Mid-century Modern homes, this is an original and inspiring new composition that matches the quality of its setting in every way.

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