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House for Essex loses out to Japanese gem in AR House awards

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An ultra-modern lakeside home in Osaka, Japan has won the AR House 2016 award, narrowly beating FAT’s A House for Essex

Judges Alison Brooks, Takero Shimazaki and Aljoša Dekleva named Cosmic by Fukuyama-based UID Architects as the winner of AR House, describing it as ‘an exemplary experiment in how to push the boundaries of an individual house project’.

The project in a quiet Osaka suburb, designed by Fukuyama-based UID Architects, breaks away from the traditional definition of an individual house. Instead, the design cleverly blurs the boundary between inside and out across the house’s two-levels, intertwining the surrounding settings with the indoor spaces.

The judges thought that Cosmic, praised by Brooks as ‘infinitely ambitious’, could be a prototype for a continuous suburban landscape of interlocked dwellings.

Finalist A House for Essex by FAT and Grayson Perry was highly commended, with Shimazaki saying, ‘I can imagine it still being talked about in 200 years or more’. On the Water at Lake Chuzenji by Nikken Sekkei in Japan and Casa Caldera in the San Rafael Valley, Arizona by DUST Architects were also finalists. 

AR House has been celebrating innovative house designs for the past seven years. This year’s judging panel was not seeking to find perfection, but rather a dwelling that demonstrated a clear sense of individualism and which challenged the conventional definition of what a house is.

Shimazaki said the shortlisted schemes reflected ‘the ambiguity and ephemerality of our present and the definition of a future house.’

The finalists

  • A House for Essex, UK by Charles Holland/FAT/Grayson Perry
  • Cosmic, Japan by UID Architects
  • On the Water, Japan by Nikken Sekkei
  • Casa Caldera, USA by DUST Architects

The four homes were visited by an independent writer and photographer, who reported their findings back to the jury in order to choose the winner. 

Last year AR House was won by David Chipperfield’s Fayland House which, like A House for Essex, also failed to pick up an RIBA regional award that year. 

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