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‘Gingerbread House’ wins AJ Small Projects 2013 Award

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Laura Dewe Mathews’ £245,000 urban infill dwelling in London has won this year’s AJ Small Projects Award

The subtly executed Box House - the new build redevelopment of an 1880s box factory in Hackney - was commended by judges for its ‘clever use of volumes and daylight.’

The judging panel, chaired by AJ editor Christine Murray and featuring sustainability editor Hattie Hartman Alison Brookes, Cathedral Group’s Martyn Evans, John Boxall of Jackson Coles and Paul Reed from competition sponsor Marley Eternit, were impressed by the architect’s ‘sensitive, witty and new’ approach to a type of urban development which is becoming ‘very standard.’

Built for the architect and her family, the cross laminated timber structure is located within an existing brickwork perimeter on a constricted site.

The house is a sensitive, witty and new approach to urban development

Dubbed the ‘gingerbread house’ by its neighbours, the project features rounded cedar shingle cladding and galvanised steel gutters.

Dewe Mathews’ took home the £1,500 top prize for the project which she described as her first ever realised scheme.

A commendation went to Scottish practice Gras for its £2,800 ‘Transient Gallery’ pavilion for the Venice architecture biennale made from polystyrene. Judges were impressed by the temporary structure which can be erected in 16 minutes and is planned for future appearances in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The £1,000 AJ Small Projects Sustainability Prize was meanwhile awarded to Kilburn Nightingale Architects for its £37,145 visitor centre in the Ruwenzori Mountains of Uganda.

The project was praised by judges for its use of local materials which included ucalyptus poles and bricks and cement made from cowdung and mud.

Described as ‘formally inventive’, the 150m² visitor centre and washroom facility was celebrated for its ‘simple elegance’ and ‘interesting internal spaces’.

Studio Myerscough was commended in the sustainability award project for its £90,000 pop up gallery and events space in Greenwich which was built to welcome visitors to Olympic equestrian events.

Featuring extracts from ‘tweet-a-day’ poems by Lemn Sissay, the structure praised by judges for its ‘fearlessness’ and ‘exuberant’ response the site.

The AJ Small Projects Awards has been sponsored by Marley Eternit for three year’s running. An exhibition of all the 24 shortlisted schemes will take place at the NLA Building Centre in London until 28 February 2013.

All 229 entries to the awards can be seen in the AJ Buildings Library, complete with photographs, drawings and details.

Description of Laura Dewe Mathews’ Box House

The site was originally part of the garden of an early Victorian end of terrace house in Hackney

It was first built on in the 1880s, to provide Alfred Chinn (the then resident of the end of terrace house) with space for his box factory, making wooden boxes for perfumes and jewellery.

The site changed hands and uses a number of times over the following 100 years, then in 2008 I purchased it, and, in discovering the history of the site, was drawn to assemble yet another box inside the original envelope of the factory.

The one bed, new-build house was recently completed using a cross-laminated timber super structure, placed inside the existing perimeter brickwork walls and rising up out of them. The timber structure has been left exposed internally. Externally the palette of materials is limited to the original brickwork, round ‘ancy-butt’ western red cedar shingles and galvanised steel flashings, window frames and window reveals. The soft shape of the shingles contrasting with the crisp edges of the galvanized steel.

Laura Dewe Mathews' Box House pictured by Chloe Dewe Mathews

Source: Chloe Dewe Mathews

Small Project winner 2013: Laura Dewe Mathews’ Box House pictured by Chloe Dewe Mathews

The form of the proposal was a response to the constricted site, with neighbours’ rights to sunlight, daylight and privacy all to be respected. Consequently the only elevation that could have any windows was the north facing, pavement fronted elevation, so the proposal countered this with large south facing roof-lights, added to this, light is brought into the main living spaces via a new private yard.

The result is a small yet generously proportioned house. At ground floor level it retains the openness of the original workshop while feeling a sense of separation from the street immediately adjacent.


Full list of previous year’s winners

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