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Winners of ‘beautiful country house' design contest revealed

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The winners of an international competition – organised on behalf of an unnamed client – for an ‘aesthetically pleasing’ house in London’s green belt have been revealed

More than 662 entries from 154 countries were made to the contest – run by built environment consultancy Barton Willmore – which sought ‘architecturally and functionally beautiful’ residential proposals for a 91ha former golf course site.

Three top prizes of £6,500 were handed to: Polish architect Maciej Grelewicz; a student team featuring Mateusz Ploszaj-Mazurek and Natalia Okolus; and French architects Sebastien Nuttens, Francois Derréal and Delphine Alibert.

UK-based architect Michael Na and a UK team featuring architects Julian Liang and Hector Romero meanwhile both won merit awards of £2,000.

Commendation prizes of £500 were announced for South Korean architects Hyun Seok Kang and Gunho Kim; Polish student Bala Michal; and Chinese architects He Dongming and Tong Hubo.

Judges included Fokke Moerel of MVRDV, Neil Porter of Gustafson Porter, Mick Finch of Central Saint Martins, and Ed Hollis, architect and author of The School of Life’s How to Make a Home.

Plans to develop the site – which will host an exhibition of all the submissions – will now be reviewed, with any future scheme occurring ‘outside of the competition remit’ – according to Barton Willmore.

Design a Beautiful House winners

Principal awards

Modern Mansion’ by Maciej Grelewicz

Modern Mansion by Maciej Grelewicz

Summary The author defines beauty as ‘simplicity and reduction’, the goal being to create a house that is ‘visually pleasing, great to live in, but at the same time devoid of all the things that are unnecessary’.

Jury statement The jurors said the Modern Mansion appeared to be a platonic and archetypically beautiful house with a clear presence in the landscape. It represented a simple solution to structuring the requirements of the family, while tailoring a response to their specific likes, dislikes and needs.


‘A Place to Be’ by Mateusz Ploszaj- Mazurek and Natalia Okolus

A Place to Be, by Mateusz Ploszaj- Mazurek and Natalia Okolus

Summary ‘A home is not just a sum of architectural spaces … home is a reflection of people living in it.’ This proposal references moods, senses, experiences and nostalgia in an attempt to define ‘A Beautiful House’ as both a physical and non-physical entity.

Jury statement The jurors were impressed by the ambition to address beauty as both a house and a home, and its incorporated range of flexibility by separating its functions to core areas and extendable additional living areas. The authors appeared to successfully integrate the home within the landscape without hiding within it, making the decision that the most ideal placement of the house was to abut the lake. Although it was noted that similar architectural typologies were also entered into the competition, the jury concluded that this was the most convincing.


‘What is a beautiful house’ by  Sebastien Nuttens, FrancoisDerréal and Delphine Alibert

What is a beautiful house, by  Sebastien Nuttens, Francois Derréal and Delphine Alibert

Summary The authors stated that their intentions were to look for solutions to encourage ‘living together’, paying special attention to the sequences between public, family and private areas. Instead of focusing on finishes and ambience, their definition of beauty related to the ‘fundamentals of architecture’, stating that this would be a ‘subject of discussion with the inhabitants in a second phase’.

Jury statement The jurors commended this proposal as a surprising revelation and for the one that provoked the most thought. The jurors were intrigued with how a typical house archetype was essentially developed into something interesting. It displayed an ability to unfold the brief through the creation of a set of well measured sequences of habitable spaces, where as much prominence was given to both the relationships between spaces as well as the spaces themselves. It was noted that this house could be a genuinely ‘beautiful’ place to live.


Merit Awards

Courtyard Brick House by Michael Na

Courtyard Brick House, by Michael Na

Awarded for its reference to the site and context, this proposal sensitively highlights its landscape setting through a pool house that extends beyond the house to locate itself on the lake, while its Hertfordshire setting is reflected through the use of material and exaggerated vernacular form. The jury felt compelled to award this participant for its ambition.     

Strata by Julian Liang and Hector Romero

Strata, by Julian Liang and Hector Romero

Described as a ‘diamond in the rough’, this proposal was given its merit award for a variety of reasons. Unlike many proposals that attempted to taper a house into the landscape, Strata did so by creating a form that stood out almost as its own landscape feature. It was an immediate conversation starter, fuelling ideas and conversations of external beauty versus internal beauty and the roof as inhabited space.


‘House of Emptiness’ by Hyun seok kang and Gunho Kim

House of Emptiness, by Hyun Seok Kang and Gunho Kim

Endless House by Bala Michal

Endless House, by Bala Michal


Unnamed scheme by He Dongming and Tong Hubo

Unnamed scheme by He Dongming and Tong Hubo






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