We're one step closer to finding out the 2014 winner of the RIBA Manser Medal - Best New House in the UK. Established in 2001 to honor former RIBA President and notable home designer Michael Manser CBE, the Manser Medal recognizes private homes or major extension that exhibit innovation, sustainability, and style and were completed within the past year by a UK architect.
Out of the 23 longlisted projects, the jury narrowed the competition down to six houses:
- Lens House in north London by Alison Brooks Architects
- The Kench in Hampshire by MELOY Architects and John Young
- Cliff House, Isle of Skye, Scotland by Dualchas Architects
- House No 7, Isle of Tiree, Scotland by Denizen Works
- Luker House in Barnes, southwest London by Jamie Fobert Architects
- Stormy Castle in Gower, Wales by Loyn & Co Architects
The winner will be announced during a special event at the RIBA in London on October 16.
Take a gander at the shortlisted houses below.
Lens House in north London by Alison Brooks Architects
Judges' citations: "The project involved the remodelling and extension of a four storey semi detached Victorian Villa in the Canonbury Conservation area. The brief was to restore the derelict villa and extend it to create a family home and office space for its clients. The project has been realised in three phases over six years.
The design takes into account the constraints and challenges of working within a conservation area and the proximity of a TPO'd walnut tree. The architects devised a strategy where the house and the new extension create a modern adaptable home. The design incorporates a rich and engaging series of spaces relating to each other and to the garden and every element of the design is beautifully considered. Whilst all the main spaces are inherently aesthetically pleasing, they are also deeply practical and the detailing is a delight. The house has been upgraded throughout to meet with 21st Century building regulations and uses passive solar technology to enhance energy performance.
The extension to the house is virtually invisible from the street and when viewed from the garden appears as an object that could be from another planet. The innovative use of Corian as an external cladding material further emphasises this crystalline appearance. The geometry of the extension is a complex series of trapezoidal planes, the junctions throughout are precise and accurate and are a testament to the care and skill that has been lavished by the architects. The architects have transformed this wrecked Victorian house into a wonderful place to live and work; it is dramatic, light and welcoming, practical and well considered at every level.
This project, whilst modest in size, is highly ambitious in its design intentions, is a beautifully conceived and executed project and is testament to the client's determination to procure a project of real quality."
The Kench in Hampshire by MELOY Architects and John Young
Judges' citations: "This beautifully detailed little summer house sets a new standard for construction quality and finish. The modest building has been carefully planned due to maximum floor space restrictions; the designer is forced to become more creative with their space saving solutions. It is a good example of how to make the best possible use of a limited area.
The rooms are arranged in a way that makes the most of the views over the Kench. This building sits very well in the setting of the other chalets and the landscape, and has become a popular addition to the site.
The attention to detail is exemplary, especially the tiling in the bathrooms, somehow resembling a 3D puzzle. The brief (which we understand arrived in a jiffy bag as a model) is executed perfectly, and this is reflected in the level of client satisfaction."
Cliff House, Isle of Skye, Scotland by Dualchas Architects
Judges' citations: "Set on the edge of a steep escarpment, with its entrance elevation cut into the hillside itself, the house commands a panoramic view over Loch Dunvegan and distant views to the north east.
The open character of the main living room and kitchen space is one distinct volume. A short corridor connects the two bedrooms which enjoy the same full height fenestration and dramatic views. The bathrooms and service accommodation are contained in separate cubic volumes, alongside the entrance which is roughly central to the plan.
This new home is gradually revealed to the visitor by means of a curved path, and its drama is only fully apparent on entry. The shift in character which becomes apparent within the building is reflected in the materials of its construction with Caithness stone used for the retaining wall and larch for the open plan main rooms.
The architecture is determinedly minimalist, with polished concrete floors and the exclusion of features such as skirtings or architraves. The architect’s intention was to concentrate the eye on the relationship between the interior and exterior, the stunning view over Loch Dunvegan, and in this has been entirely successful. The single space, with its wall of glass and supplementary balancing natural light from clerestory glazing between the roof joists is completely satisfying
This house is a deceptively simple response to a unique island setting. Combining both shelter and drama, it is both respectful of its special location and a superb contemporary dwelling for its inhabitants."
House No 7, Isle of Tiree, Scotland by Denizen Works
Judges' citations: "This restoration and extension of a ruined, B-listed, Tiree black-house effectively provides two houses within a single curtilage. The extensions follow the spirit of local agricultural buildings in their materials, roof forms and particularly in the use of corrugated cladding. The tradition of reconstructing Hebridean black-houses with black tarred roofing, rather than their original thatched roofs (held down by stone weighted netting), is sufficiently long established to have become an alternative local vernacular. This approach, allied to the utilitarian agricultural appearance of the extensions, creates an external form that is both contextual and appropriate.
Set in the southern coat of the island, House no. 7 enjoys views of Duin Bay to the south, set within a typical Tiree undulating machair, punctuated by other traditional housing. Without any natural shelter from the wind, the house hunkers down within its exposed setting. However, the interior is designed to be light, bright, welcoming and cosy, in contrast with the robust forms of the exterior. Extensive use of timber, alongside the exposed natural stone, enhances the perceived warmth of the interior while heating is provided through an air-source heat pump.
Internal circulation and the connection between the two discreet living spaces is provided by a glass-roofed corridor which again enhances light to the interior, contributing to the dual character of this extraordinary development as a clever play on the traditional in the exterior and a dwelling full of delight within. The quality of this internal space is such that it is difficult to express in words, or indeed, show in photographs, its impact in three dimensions. It is truly inspiring, with the quality of the detailing adding to the sense of pleasure it creates, and indeed inspiring a reassessment of the quality of thought behind the design.
What is particularly noteworthy about this entry is the quality of the detailing; the way in which materials have been selected and their relationship to each other. This house is notable for the tactile pleasure which is invoked by every simple activity, even just opening a door. It is full of thoughtful playfulness."
Luker House in Barnes, south west London by Jamie Fobert Architects
Judges' citations: "Luker House, Jamie Fobert Architects This beautiful house is an essay in how to transform a totally unpromising site into something poetic and memorable. Sited in backlands with the prospect of new development overlooking the site, the design makes a merit of developing a one-sided relationship to a sequence of external spaces. It is difficult to evoke the quality of visual refinement within this building. Wherever you look there are combinations of planes, surfaces and light of unusual quality. A huge horizontal opening connects the kitchen and dining room to the garden, the whole window opening and disappearing against the adjacent wall. The plan and section have an unexpected geometry, a kind of stretching out of forms and shapes that plays games with the orthogonal.
The house is for a services engineer who played a part in the construction process, installing all the services himself with the assistance of his wife. The client acted as project manager and the architect came to site whenever wanted. They both speak of a very happy relationship and there is no doubt that the client is delighted with the outcome. Everything is finished to an exceptionally high standard with inventive details round the kitchen, including a beautiful stainless steel work table. The policy to keep family heirloom furniture, rather than finding new modern pieces, pays off in setting up a contrast between refined modern space and more sculpted traditional furniture.
There is a self-build aspect to this project which means that it will continue to develop over time, with an additional live or work unit and a bedroom still to be fitted out. However, what has been built stands entirely by itself as a distinguished architectural proposition. The garden is also evolving with a water feature in process of installation. With its simple brick exterior, refined windows, concrete and timber floors, concrete and plaster walls, the whole project is expressive of care and craftsmanship throughout."
Stormy Castle in Gower, Wales by Loyn & Co Architects
Judges' citations: "Stormy Castle is a contemporary private house in an area of outstanding natural beauty on a hillside on the Gower peninsula. The client, a local couple who know the area well, had always wanted to build something which reflected the quality of the surroundings and, conversely, made the most of the site in terms of views, landscape design and topography.
The resulting design is a tour de force in terms of space, natural light, level changes and connection to the landscape. The palette of materials is kept to a minimum – polished concrete floors flowing throughout, shuttered concrete walls, crystalline white ceilings, full height glazing to maximise the views and Corten steel accents to external doors, cladding and the roof of the retained barn.
Although the overall building is 725 square metres in area, much of it is cleverly hidden in the ground, emerging on three levels to make the most of the orientation and external landscape. The jury was impressed by the sustainability credentials, with a comprehensive range of energy, recycling and heating strategies incorporated into the design, which will be invaluable in dealing with such a large footprint.
By far the most striking element in the design is the quality of light which reaches deep into the interior. In many ways this is as much an art gallery as a home, with the areas in between the living ‘rooms’ inviting interventions – indeed the client is keen to explore this over time. The multi levels and interplay between inside and out create a range of private, intimate courtyards and more exposed external spaces which allow the building to connect, whatever the climate.
This is a brave design in an area of Wales where the more conservative, vernacular indigenous design solution usually holds sway. The jury was therefore delighted to see a contemporary design of quality win through and reward an ambitious client and architect."
This year's judges are Michael Manser CBE (chair); Robert Hiscox, Honorary President of Hiscox; Lady Patty Hopkins, Carl Turner (winner of the 2013 Manser Medal); and Tony Chapman, RIBA Head of Awards.
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