The shortlist for the Royal Institute of British Architects annual House of the Year awards has been announced, showcasing the best new builds across the country.
The six nominees are dotted from the Isle of Wight (a futuristic glass pavilion with a pyramidal copper roof) to the Scottish Highlands (an homage to baronial castles clad in crushed TV screens) and represent triumphs from some of the leading lights of British architecture.
‘This year’s RIBA House of the Year shortlist includes a range of exciting new typologies, including a rethink of the family terraced house and a model for collective rural living,’ notes jury chair Dido Milne, director of CSK Architects. ‘Here we have everything; from homes inserted into tight urban sites and new life breathed into existing structures, to detached rural homes where the architect has been given free rein to reimagine the baronial hall or lakeside retreat.
‘Localism is a recurring theme, with architects engaging with the local vernacular without being slaves to tradition, and local sourcing of materials targeting both embodied and operational carbon to deliver genuinely sustainable design. ‘The most notable aspect this year, however, is the power of “collaboration” to deliver great buildings. The fundamental importance of the client and architect relationship is evident in all the shortlisted projects which demonstrate how an architect can bring a client’s dreams to life.’
Cowshed, South Devon
David Kohn Architects, winner of the RIBA House of the Year 2022, is nominated again, this time for a modern take on a 1970s agricultural structure (as the name suggests). The Cowshed is part family home, part artist’s studio and part home office.
Almost all of the original building has been retained, while being updated with economical materials, including locally sourced concrete blocks and cedar from a nearby estate. There are nods to the building’s formal use: lights previously used to warm calves are repurposed.
Saltmarsh House, Isle of Wight
Niall McLaughlin Architects, which has many esteemed clients, including Oxford University, works on everything from town masterplans and schools to private houses – like this futuristic design for which it is nominated.
Offering uninterrupted harbour views, the primary structure is an intricate glass pavilion with a pitched copper roof – a reference to the glasshouses that once stood on the same ground.
The effect is striking: the building appears to blend seamlessly into its spectacular surroundings.
This focus of connecting the building to its environment is central to the work McLaughlin does. He previously told Spear’s: ‘We hope each project will be an original interpretation of the client, site, brief and budget.’
Green House, London
Hayhurst & Co
The centrepiece of this five-bedroom home in Tottenham, south London, is an awe-inspiring central atrium inspired by a riad, while the rest of the property features sophisticated touches that recall the greenhouse which previously stood on the site. The connection to nature is emphasised with a roof terrace and expansive views of the garden.
Middle Avenue, Farnham
Tucked away in a leafy corner of Surrey is this tile-covered home that achieves the considerable feat of blending in with other buildings in the conservation area. The inter-war bungalow that once stood on the site has been replaced with an inviting property steeped in ‘architectural detailing and craftsmanship’.
Made of Sand, Devon
Traditional methods were employed in the creation of this two-storey extension to a Devonshire cottage. It connects to the beauty of the surrounding environment through the use of materials like the western red cedar cladding and Douglas fir panels. This warm colour palette continues throughout. The judges note: ‘The warm palette continues throughout with handmade terracotta floor tiles and rust-coloured plaster walls seamlessly bringing together the existing and new structures.’
Hundred Acre Wood, Argyll and Bute
The grandeur of Scotland’s baronial castles meets cutting-edge design in this property on the banks of Loch Awe. ‘Appearing ancient and new at the same time, unique interventions include a textured façade made from crushed TV screens – a playful nod to the homeowner’s dislike of TV,’ the judges observe. There is still plenty of majesty: a huge central hall is flooded with light thanks to a 2 metre-wide roof light.
The winner of the RIBA House of the Year 2023 will be announced on 30 November