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Shortlist for AJ Small Projects Awards – Part 4

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The AJ can reveal the next five schemes in the running for the 2016 Small Projects Award


The schemes by Konishi Gaffney, McLaren Excell, Neighbourhood, NORD London and Nozomi Nakabayashi are all in the running to be crowned the best project with a construction value under £250,000. 

Ranging from a timber hut on stilts, to a writing room at the bottom of a garden and a cor-ten house extension, the finalists are a diverse mix which showcase what can be done even on the tightest of budgets. 

The shortlist so far 

Sunken Extension by Konishi Gaffney

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

Source: Andrew Lee

Sunken Extension by Konishi Gaffney

Restricted by planning regulations this extension had to be sunken into the ground to limit its visual impact.

Due to the increased cost of creating a sunken design, the architects had to find a simple and affordable way to build. The practice turned to the work of Walter Segal and his timber-frame construction method which was first pioneered in the seventies.

A 600mm deep concrete base was sunken into the ground and tanked to ground level. The timber frame was carefully set out at 600 centres and expressed internally at the windows and below the flat roofed ceiling.

Fixed windows with a trickle vent into the cladding cavity were affordable and the cladding in plywood was set out at the same centres and detailed in the Segal way.

The resultant pattern of the expressed structure is accentuated by extended eaves and the low slung proportions.

Cost £52,265
Location Edinburgh
Completed December 2015
Floor area 45m²
Client Lee Simmons

Ingersoll Road by McLaren Excell

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

Ingersoll Road by McLaren Excell

This project aimed to challenge the common aesthetics of the terraced house extension.

Concrete was chosen as a key material and used for floors, walls and furniture elements. This was then contrasted with cor-ten steel and grey elm timber.

The ground floor comprises of a kitchen and formal living rooms, arranged around a central fulcrum with circulation to either side.

Each space flows into the other and extended floor finishes break down the differentiation between rooms, becoming landings, seats or bookshelves.

Corners, window seats and benches have been designed for a young family as places for playing, sitting, reading or talking, and a large window projects invitingly into the garden.

The loft, which has also been transformed as part of the project, has a different feel with a palette of white-washed douglas fir boards, light walls and exposed brickwork.

Cost £200,000
Location London
Completed October 2014
Floor area 190m²
Client Ewan and Kate Thompson

The Writing Room by Neighbourhood

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

Source: Rory Gardiner

The Writing Room by Neighbourhood

Commissioned by an actor and surf enthusiast to create a small building in the main house’s back garden to replace an existing shed, the architect created a space which would provide for a series of different uses.

The building needed to incorporate space for writing alongside storage for surf boards and garden tools, while being a peaceful retreat away from the house and a venue for teenage parties.

The timber shingle-clad cabin provides relaxation and writing spaces which wrap around an external terrace. The main space opens up at right angles to the house giving a long, peaceful view across the adjoining gardens.

Cost £25,000
Location London
Completed July 2015
Floor area 22m²
Client private

Knole Gatehouse by NORD London

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

Source: Leon Chew

Knole Gatehouse by NORD London

This 6m2 gatehouse sits at the entrance to the Knole estate in Sevenoaks, Kent and provides an introduction to the grounds from the main entry road to the park.

Owned by the National Trust, Knole House is one of England’s largest ancestral houses and is set within a 1,000 acre park.

Clad in charred timber the single-room structure has been designed to mark the impact which the Great Storm of 1987 had on the park.

The storm destroyed 60 per cent of the trees within the grounds and this scarring of the landscaping is still visible nearly 30 decades on.

The sculpted shape of the building is cut from a simple shed typology with external covered space and glazing punched into the form.

Cost £45,000
Location Sevenoaks
Completed January 2015
Floor area 6m²
Client The National Trust

Hut on Stilts by Nozomi Nakabayashi

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

AJ Small Projects Award 2016 finalist

Source: Henrietta Williams

Hut on Stilts by Nozomi Nakabayashi

Hut on Stilts is a small hide away space in a woodland in Dorset. The client desired a compact small space to spend the night and to enjoy the view high above ground amongst the trees.

The project provides both a lower level open deck and an elevated hut. Each building element has a double function. The floor hides a bed under the removable plywood planks, the eaves of the roof returns into the interior as a ledge of polycarbonate soffit and plywood table, and the wall houses an alcove for a stove.

Nakabayashi worked both as the designer and the builder of the project, designing and constructing the project while inhabiting the site. The structure was prefabricated, raised on site, and the interior fit-out and the exterior finish were built in situ.

Cost £40,000
Location Dorset
Completed February 2015 
Floor area 6m²
Client private


The Observatory by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Lake Cabin by Feilden + Mawson with FAM Architekti

Archive Homestore and Kitchen by Haptic Architects

Avon Wildlife Trust Cabin by Hugh Strange Architects

Kinnerton Street by Jonathan Tuckey Design

White Cube at Glyndebourne by Carmody Groarke

The Welcoming Shelter by Charlie Redman

Kenworthy Road by Chris Dyson Architects

The Woodland Cabin by De Rosee Sa

Contemporary Lean-to by Doma Architects

Landells Road by Alma-nac

Clock House by Archmongers

The Pyramid Viewpoint by BTE Architecture

Folds by Bureau de Change

Storage Cube by Carden and Godfrey

The projects will now go on to be judged by our expert panel made up of RIBA head of awards Tony Chapman, developer and architect Roger Zogolovitch, architect Sally Lewis and cost expert John Boxall. 

The AJ Small Projects Awards, run again in association with Marley Eternit, celebrate completed projects with a contract value of £250,000 and under.

The awards were launched in 1996 to give much-deserved recognition to the many high quality schemes with low pricetags.

Although the budget has increased from the original £150,000 cap, the intention of the awards remains the same: ‘From home extensions to restaurants, offices to shops, architects all over the country are busy working on projects that may not make the headlines but nevertheless give a real indication of the design talent in Britain today.’

Last year the award was picked up by Carmody Groarke for its temporary Maggie’s Centre in Merseyside, while RCKa’s Enfield Business Centre was honoured with the Sustainability Prize.




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