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Gap House wins the Manser Medal 2009


A narrow terraced house in West London by Pitman Tozer Architects has won this year’s Manser Medal in association with the Rooflight Company

The Gap House, ‘an exceptional’ architect-owned private family house in Bayswater saw off an impressive shortlist (see story below) to land the prestigious prize, worth £5,000, for the best one-off house or housing designed by an architect in the United Kingdom.

The win for the home, which is just 2.4m-wide at the front and slides between two white stucco villas, marks a victorious return for the ‘single house’ after Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners picked up last year’s award for its’ Oxley Woods housing development near Milton Keynes.

Michael Manser, the award founder, said: ‘Once again the Manser Medal has been won by an intelligent, simple, practical, high-quality design that makes most of the housebuilding industry look inadequate. 

‘The design is one of impeccable detailing and simplicity in every respect. The narrow front elevation is an acme of understatement and although frankly modern, at a first glance makes almost no impact. Just a narrow column of identical half shuttered casement windows, above a basement-level entrance door, all in a background of white stucco to match the adjoining houses.’

Valerie King of award sponsor the Rooflight Company added: ‘Overall the most impressive aspect of the design is its level of skill, imagination and practicality in creating a series of apparently generous spaces, despite all the constraints of overlooking, conservation policies and initially hostile residents association. 

‘The result is a comfortable home in a great piece of architecture.’

The announcement was made on Saturday 17 October at a special awards ceremony for the RIBA Stirling Prize in association with The Architects’ Journal and Crystal CG at Old Billingsgate in London.

Intriguingly, only 1.7 per cent of voters in an online poll chose the Gap House to win the Manser Medal. Readers had placed the Highgate Cemetery House by Eldridge Smerin as its runaway favourite (with 64 per cent of the votes cast).

Previous story (10.09.09)

AJ Special: RIBA reveals Manser Medal shortlist

A narrow terraced house and a home that extends like a telescope are among the five projects shortlisted for this year’s Manser Medal, awarded for the best housing project or one-off house

The RIBA has today unveiled the five finalists vying for this year’s Manser Medal. The award is for the best housing project or one-off house by an architect in the UK and is sponsored by The Rooflight Company.

The shortlist (click on each for full details)

Last year’s Manser Medal was won by a large housing development, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ Oxley Woods in Milton Keynes, which saw off an impressive shortlist including Stirling Prize victor Accordia.

It was the first time major residential schemes had been allowed to compete for the award, which was only previously handed to the best individual house or major extension.

This year only one housing project has made it to the final – S333 and Stock Woolstencroft’s Block 3 at the Tarling Estate in East London. The other four shortlisted projects are an eclectic mix of an ultra-modern glass box, ingenious terrace infill, a rural home and a sliding timber-framed house.

The judging panel is led by award founder and former RIBA president Michael Manser, and also includes Ivan Harbour of Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners, RIBA head of awards Tony Chapman and Val King of The Rooflight Company.

King said: ‘Housing in Britain is the key architectural issue of today. Last year’s winner showed housebuilders you could make homes affordable and sustainable.

She added: ‘This year all the schemes are very different, but are great examples of their type. What shone through in all the homes was great attention to detail.’

The winner will be unveiled before the announcement of the Stirling Prize winner at a ceremony in London on 17 October.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Any chance of a plan and secion guys...this house is intrigueing!

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  • Excellent! '....makes most of the housebuilding industry look inadequate.' - that's because the mass housing market IS inadequate!

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