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Chipperfield's English country idyll crowned best house in the world

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A house by David Chipperfield Architects has been named the best new house in the world following a global search by the Architectural Review (AR)

The AR House Awards, which celebrate excellence in one-off housing design, chose Chipperfield’s Fayland House as the winner for its ‘radical new take on the English country house’.

Judge Adam Caruso praised Chipperfield for making ‘a luxury home that isn’t pompous or a projection of the vanity of its inhabitants’.

The 888m2 house in Buckinghamshire sits on a plot previously occupied by a two-storey house and a number of outbuildings.

The single-storey house is buried within the landscape and features a loggia running the length of the building.

The main living spaces open out onto this loggia while other rooms open out onto smaller courtyards.

The house’s walls are made of brick which has been left visible while its concrete roof has been planted with grass native to the Chilterns.

Fayland House by David Chipperfield Architects

Project data

Location Buckinghamshire
Type of project House
Architect David Chipperfield Architects
Date of completion 2013
Gross floor area 888 m²
Client Private
Structural engineer Alan Baxter Associates
Services engineer Spink Property
Quantity surveyor Spink Property
General contractor Spink Construction

Fayland House by David Chipperfield Architects

The judges’ comments

Adam Caruso, Caruso St John
‘The judging was enjoyable. We talked a lot about how minimalist Modernism continues to be such a compelling theme for architect-designed homes. None of us was interested in those projects. We were aware of the significance of choosing a house with a large budget, but so many houses are luxurious these days and yet have so little architectural quality. To make a luxury home that isn’t pompous or a projection of the vanity of its inhabitants is a really difficult thing. Fayland House places a very large house in a special landscape without disappearing. The domestic outdoor spaces, which have always been an issue in English country houses, are in courtyards, which is an innovation.’

Sofia von Ellrichshausen, Pezo von Ellrichshausen
‘In many of the houses that we saw, there was a self-conscious response to the media’s constant demand for novelty, with no link to the conditions of the place where they were made. I hope to be surprised by projects that emerge without knowing if they’ll ever be published or not. The winner, Fayland House, does push what a house is. It takes normal elements and manipulates them.

It very rigid from the outside, but the plan is a lot less obvious

That colonnade in the front and the way it modulates the scale on the landscape is very interesting. It also seems to be very rigid from the outside, but the plan is a lot less obvious, offering differing levels of privacy, and arranged around courtyards. The fact that Chipperfield has a large office but can still maintain a high level of quality in a small-scale project is a lesson, of course.’

Pippo Ciorra, architecture curator, MAXXI 
‘Judging is always a strange experience where you learn a lot. I was very happy to see the global span of the entries, which is extremely successful for the awards, but there were actually many commonalities among the houses. This is very revealing, but also kind of flat. Maybe this architectural world needs to be shaken again. But also it’s a social problem. Single family houses were ghosts in architectural culture, now they are becoming the norm and we need to negotiate how we can build something that is post urban. Fayland House combines fragments of architectural archetypes to create a family house behind one facade with very light circulation. Rather than the vocabulary, what’s interesting is the way these fragments are put together to negotiate a complicated site.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Sure seems it doesn't take much to win accolades from the AR these days. "Greatest house in the world" ?
    Personally, I would have said Richard Neutra's "Kaufmann" house, circa (1946) did "Minimalist Modernism" somewhat better. I doubt Fayland house,barely compares either as a house or as a work of art. I really do not wish tobe unkind or take anything away from such an exalted accomplishment
    but I do wonder exactly whom is kidding whom in the rarefied world of architectural grandiose conceit. Clearly, it simply is not a (family house) with all the necessary and myriad of functions such a building would need to fulfil.
    It would have been more fittting to have put it straight into an episode of grand designs. They seem to like "Sterile"

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