The countdown has begun. Today, Caring Wood and the Shawm House were revealed as the first two shortlisted homes for RIBA's 2017 House of the Year Award, the UK's most prestigious accolade for top-notch architectural design in a new home or home extension. Out of a longlist of 20, the shortlisted projects will be gradually revealed every week on “Grand Designs: House of the Year” TV program throughout this month. The House of the Year winner will be revealed on television November 28.
Designed by James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell, Caring Wood in rural Kent is a modern interpretation of the traditional English country house to meet present-day needs of three generations of a family.
Built in West Woodburn village in the rustic Northumbrian landscape, the Shawm House by MawsonKerr Architects is a stunning self-build by Richard Pender in collaboration with Dan Kerr. Pender built the home to provide a more manageable home for his aging parents.
Read on for jury report excerpts on both projects.
Caring Wood designed by James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell
Jury report excerpt: “This scheme is an ambitious project which seeks to re-envisage the ‘English country house’ in the 21st century to meet the needs of three generations of the same family. The jury was impressed with how Macdonald Wright Architects had manipulated space and scale to balance the need for grandeur with intimacy – from the soaring spaces of the piano nobile to the living spaces partially embedded in the hillside below. As a result they have created a house of over 1400 sq.m. which nevertheless feels like a home.The detail of how each space will be inhabited has been very carefully thought through. Caring Wood engages in the dialogue of critical regionalism: the design of the house is modern but with clear links to the Kentish rural vernacular and local building traditions.
Externally, the form of the house uses the traditional oast house as a form generator — on entering, there is a framed view of a traditional oast in the distance. The house comprises four towers with an interlinking roof. This family of towers are sentry points in the landscape with distinct personalities. A conversation is set up both between the towers of the house itself and with those of the oast houses in the distant landscape, providing a tension to the overall composition.
The jury were also impressed with the quality of the build, the level of craftsmanship and the rigour of the pared-back palette of materials employed throughout. It is a composition of locally sourced handmade peg clay tiles, locally quarried ragstone and locally coppiced chestnut cladding. It is a rich, warm palette that ties the house to the Kent countryside and speaks of ‘place’...”
Shawm House by MawsonKerr Architects and Richard Pender
Jury report excerpt: “Shawm house is quiet simply special. It isn’t often that you visit a self-build or professionally procured house that is immaculately constructed, sensitively conceived and has heart and soul with which it impossible not to make an emotional connection. Shawm house has a remarkable story. Whilst living and working on the site this house built by Richard Pender to provide a more manageable home for his ageing parents delivers a building that tells a story at every turn. You feel connected to the history of the Pender family, the historic farms and bastilles visible across the Northumbrian fells and are provided with a wonderful series of carefully framed views of the rustic Northumbrian landscape.
Working in partnership with Dan Kerr the project architect, Richard Pender has developed from scratch an enviable understanding of construction methodology and technologies, new practical skills and an undeniably keen eye for detail. The building was constructed by Richard on site, in an existing barn were he structured a bespoke jig to enable him to create the buildings timber frame, before applying timber cladding and other finishes to create a house that connects to immediate features such as an existing walled garden but more over sits comfortably in the landscape context [...]
The level of consideration given to the construction process and interfaces between materials new and old is understated yet beautifully composed. Nothing is overstated, yet emphasis, legibility and clarity is given to each element with a balanced and pleasing weighting. Shawm house will be a perfect home for Richards parents and is indeed one of Northumberland’s finest homes...”
The next set of shortlisted homes will be revealed on November 14.
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