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Shortlist named in filmmaker’s contest for disabled-friendly family home

Box Hill, Surrey
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Three emerging studios and one established practice have been shortlisted in a design competition for a disabled-friendly family home in Box Hill, Surrey

Up-and-coming London practices Ciarcelluti Mathers Architects, Scott Whitby Studio and Tigg + Coll Architects have been named finalists alongside Clague Architects – founded in Canterbury 80 years ago – in the Colander Associates-organised contest which received 28 entries.

The competition, open to architects and designers under 40, sought designs for a ‘light, spacious and barrier-free home’ for the clients’ two sons who suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMH).

The project, Theo and Oskar’s New Home, is backed by the boys’ father Nick Taussig, who founded the award-winning film finance and production firm Salon.

The brief states that Taussig ‘will be filming the competition process, from conception through to the selection of the winning team, including sessions with the jury panel and interviews with shortlisted teams, as well as the subsequent building process.

‘It is the intention that the resultant documentary will play at film festivals, be broadcast on domestic television, and sold for foreign broadcast.’

Duchenne muscular dystrophy, named after French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne, is a fatal inherited condition which causes gradual muscle weakness and is only detectable in early childhood. Five-year-old Theo and three-year-old Oskar were diagnosed with the condition two years ago.

The £100,000 project will transform the Taussigs’ two-bedroom 1930s bungalow into the ‘best possible barrier-free home’ for the children.

The winning team will create an environment that maximises the children’s freedom of movement and improves the feeling of connections to the outside world and garden. The project will require bedrooms opening on to the garden, potential accommodation for a live-in carer, and demolition of an existing garage.

Judges include Nick and Klara Taussig, John McAslan of John McAslan & Partners, British Psychological Society associate fellow Suky Macpherson and the artist Tony Heaton.

Nick Taussig said: ‘We’d like to thank all those gifted architects who submitted to the competition. We hope that this project, done for a modest and realistic budget, will afford Theo and Oskar a great home to meet their needs, and in turn inspire other families living with disability to do the same.’

McAslan commented: ‘I am pleased that Nick and Klara have had such a positive and thoughtful response from such a wide range of young designers who have clearly risen to the very specific challenges of this competition. The next phase will involve interviews with four shortlisted teams and on the basis of what we have seen so far – these promise to be fascinating.’

The runner-up teams will receive £200 each while the winner will receive £600 and the design commission.

The full shortlist

  • Ciarcelluti Mathers Architects, London
  • Clague Architects, Canterbury
  • Scott Whitby Studio, London
  • Tigg + Coll Architects, London

Q+A: Client, filmmaker and competition judge Nick Taussig

How will this contest deliver an ideal home for your family?

Disabled living and provision is poor, something you realise all too quickly when you must suddenly care for someone with a disability. Our sons share a fatal disease for which there is currently no cure, and which will likely kill them before they become men, so the very best place to live, a place which will nourish their hearts and spirits, is vital. We want them to savour every minute they have with us, and us with them. Why a competition? Because much of what’s on offer for disabled people does not enable but disable further. But also because it’s about showing other people living with disability what is possible.

Why are you filming the competition process?

Salon Pictures is filming the competition and process, first in the hope that a broadcaster such as Channel 4 will be willing to accommodate it in their schedule, and second because the final documentary will offer an inspiration to other families.

What sort of teams are you hoping will apply?

It’s open to everyone, and the only requirement for any team applying is that they’re passionate about the project and get what it means to be disabled, to face what Theo and Oskar do. The documentary film Salon is making is not Grand Designs-format television, but rather a single documentary film charting the process of what needs to be done to help Theo and Oskar get the most from life.

Are there examples of similar projects you have been impressed by?

How we’d love it to raise the bar for disabled living. We can get a man on the moon, yet struggle to provide adequate and affordable disabled housing. Appropriate case studies? Not really, though anything Scandinavian and minimal will likely always win us over.

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