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Revealed: first homes in running for RIBA House of the Year

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The first two houses shortlisted for the RIBA House of the Year award have been revealed on a special Grand Designs show

A flint-clad house for the Rothschild family by Skene Catling de la Peña and a house in Sussex with a sculptural timber roof by Wilkinson King are in the running for the 2015 RIBA House of the Year.

The shortlisted homes were revealed at the end of a special edition of Grand Designs aired on Channel 4 at 9pm tonight (4 November). A further five homes vying for the accolade will be announced during the four-part series with the winner revealed in the final show on 25 November.

Introducing the Grand Designs show at a preview at the RIBA earlier this week, Kevin McCloud said the award, which replaces the long-established Manser Medal, was ‘the BAFTA of residential architecture’.

The first programme showcased five country homes on the 20-strong House of the Year award long list, also including Prewett Bizley Architects’ Dundon Passivhaus, Grillagh Water House in Northern Ireland by Patrick Bradley Architects, and Mole Architects’ Stackyard in Suffolk.

Speaking on the television show, editor in chief of Elle Decoration Michelle Ogundehin said the Flint House was ‘less of a building than an architectural sculpture for living in’.

The judges of the prestigious prize include Jonathan Manser of the Manser Practice, Duggan Morris’ Mary Duggan, 2014 Manser Medal winner Chris Loyn of Loyn & Co, James Standen of awards sponsor Hiscox, and RIBA head of awards Tony Chapman. 

Flint House, Buckinghamshire, by Skene Catling de la Peña


Judges’ comments

The house is part of an artistic project involving engagement with artists, photographers and musicians. Forming accommodation for family members, guests and artists, the building is split into two parts: the main house plus an annexe. It is constructed of masonry with flint cladding. The project is a rare example of a poetic narrative whose realisation remains true to the original concept. The site is on a seam of flint geology, and is surrounded by ploughed fields where the flint sits on the surface. The building is conceived as a piece of that geology, thrusting up through the flat landscape. The innovation and beauty of the scheme is particularly evident in the detail of the cladding that starts at the base as knapped flint, and slowly changes in construction and texture until it becomes chalk blocks at the highest point. This gives a feeling of varying geological strata with the building dissolving as it reaches to the sky. The architect worked with a number of specialist and skilled craftsmen to achieve the end result.

Sussex House, West Sussex, by Wilkinson King Architects


Judges’ comments

This stand-alone contemporary villa set in the Sussex countryside is an exceptional retreat. Externally the house is quietly confident, with its row of low-profile roof pyramids, windows positioned to take advantage of the views, and a muted colour palette of materials. A lack of decoration and ornament gives this modern house a functional feel, but one that is cleverly considered to the very last detail. Internally the double-height void and staircase orchestrate the house, effortlessly organising a contiguous open plan and cellular spaces into a simple but elegant arrangement. The oversailing first floor produces the feeling of a quiet monastic cloister with sun-filled spaces and carefully framed views. There is much to admire about the project, and it is clear the designers have invested a lot of energy into guiding it to have a crafted feel through modern materials and technologies. The design fulfils the brief and provides the clients with so much more.


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