The first two houses shortlisted for the RIBA House of the Year Award were revealed on a special Grand Designs episode last night (24 November)
Loyn & Co’s Stirling Prize-shortlisted Outhouse in the Forest of Dean and the renovation of a 1960s Modernist house in Wiltshire by Coppin Dockray will be joined by another five finalists over the coming weeks.
The overall winner is set to be announced on the Channel 4 programme on 15 December.
Outhouse, which missed out to Caruso St John’s Newport Street Gallery in this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize, was last month awarded the relaunched Manser Medal. Coppin Dockray’s Ansty Plum house had also been in the running for that prize.
The first programme, themed ‘building for the countryside’, also featured Hudson Architects’ Le Petit Fort, Owers House by John Pardey Architects and Zinc House by JLR+H, which were all longlisted for the prize.
The judging panel for the award is chaired by Mole Architects’ Meredith Bowles and includes Joanthan Dallas of Dallas Pierce Quintero, Wallpaper architecture editor Elle Stathaki, Phil Thorn from sponsor Hiscox and Charlotte Skene Catling of Skene Catling de la Peña, which won last year’s award for its Flint House.
The RIBA House of the Year Award replaced the institute’s long-established Manser Medal last year when the television series was introduced. The relaunched Manser Medal is now part of the British Homes Awards.
Last year the special Grand Designs show, fronted by Kevin McCloud saw the prize reach a greater audience than ever before with the first show attracting 2.2 million viewers.
The shortlist so far…
Ansty Plum by Coppin Dockray
Ansty Plum by Coppin Dockray
Source: Rachael Smith
Ansty Plum is a very special 20th-century house, resurrected for viable modern living without damaging the spirit or the fabric of the original. In the house, what has been taken away and what has not been added is as important as what has been rescued or retained.
The building is now perhaps as close to its original form as at any time in its subsequent development, and the removal of limited but unhappy accruals, such as an en-suite shower room on the first-floor platform were essential in resetting the balance of the space.
Careful thought has led to a building that is discreetly and successfully heated, lit, insulated and serviced, leaving the classic period interior intact and the house’s future assured. One could debate the change in atmosphere created by replacing the original brick floor to allow underfloor heating and service improvements, but the use of stock paving slabs surface-ground down to the aggregate is a clever and pleasing intervention that sits well in context. The house is modest, and the viability initiative sensibly and sensitively looked elsewhere for ancillary accommodation.
The stone shell of the dilapidated Smithson-designed studio adjacent to the house was inhabited to provide an accommodation annexe featuring bedroom, shower room and storage sub-space, sitting above a garage and store on the steeply sloping site. The apparent collapsed state of the building could perhaps have led to a slightly bolder – that is a less reverent – architecture, but the rebuild is fastidiously faithful to the spirit of the original while adding considerable comfort and some delight.
The space is lined with timber of a delicious hue to create an almost nostalgic atmosphere. Great care has been applied in detail throughout; a frameless and seamless door hung on a brass piano hinge opens to reveal a glass-backed shower room overlooking a fern-lined embankment in a typical example. This is an intimate gem of a space which complements the initiatives undertaken in the main house, as a skilfully crafted small project.
Outhouse by Loyn & Co
Outhouse by Loyn & Co
Source: Charles Hosea
Outhouse is located on a fabulous sloping plot in the Forest of Dean, running beside Offa’s Dyke, with long views to the Wye Valley and Severn Estuary. The design exploits the site potential to the full with a discreet design that beds into the site literally and metaphorically, finely balancing respect to context with confident architectural expression.
The simplicity of the house, which was undoubtedly hard-won, is founded on rigour and restraint. This is a house with a field on top – not an ‘architectural’ green roof but a proper field, punctured with light wells that creatures are having to learn to avoid. It is a concrete house where the concrete feels warm and luxurious, and a considered and crafted palette of surfaces form a backdrop for the artist-owners’ own refined art and furniture.
The design eloquently and effortlessly tackles many familiar issues; the blurred relationship between interior and exterior space, the penetration of light into a deep single-aspect plan, the control of sustainability without flaunting it.
The key architectural device is a rigorous plan organisation separating studio and working spaces on the uphill side and glass-fronted living spaces on the downhill side to take advantage of spectacular views. The building’s backbone is a linear circulation space driven through the plan perpendicular to the site slope, with the front door at one end and Wales at the other. The entrance is a Modernist set-piece with a covered approach flanked by a black pigmented concrete pavilion and a simple solid open stair running through a rectangular puncture in the roof plane. Channelled views through the glass door reveal the spine, active as a gallery space opens to and illuminated by the living space on the downslope side. Fleeting glimpses of the retired owner’s traversing the house on micro-scooters confirmed the very definite feeling that we wanted to enter.
To misquote Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire: ‘they had us at “Hello’’.’