The third round of projects in the mix for the title of RIBA House of the Year has been released by the organization in advance of tonight’s third episode of the BBC Channel 4’s Grand Designs: House of the Year program.
Home designs from Surman Weston and Haysom Ward Miller are the next two to compete for the now nine-year-old title, which, this year, features "Hard to Build" residential structures across the country.
Surman Weston’s contemporary Surbiton Springs design met its client’s challenge to ensure an "industrial aesthetic, but not simply a minimalist open plan box" with a two-story creation that combines mock-Tudor inspiration with the pared-down "industrial" chique into one hybrid form supported by a traditional A-frame structural system.
The building envelope is completed via the addition of slurried brick infill paneling that is rendered in white to further evoke the suburban area’s vernacular traditions, which date back to the 1930s. A triple-height entrance hall frames a living room offering "dramatic change in spatial quality, from compression to expansiveness."
Per the jury: "As you move through the house, the material palette becomes increasingly warmer, with timber floors and plaster walls acting as counterpoints to the utilitarian, matter-of-fact, steel roof and floor decks, which Surman Weston saw as a modern interpretation of exposed Tudor timber beams."
"Upstairs, bedrooms and bathrooms are housed within the ‘loft space’, which, at five meters in height and primarily lit from above and has a peaceful, almost ecclesiastical quality. The master bedroom opens onto a south-facing covered balcony — a space to enjoy the best and worst of the British weather. The rear elevation acts as a counter-point to the front and responds to its south orientation: Clear glazing at the ground and a hit-and-miss brick pattern within the gable providing a more filigree and visually-permeable relationship between inside and out."
Surman Weston’s new construction was joined by Haysom Ward Miller’s Suffolk Cottage, which was referred to by the jury as a "characterful, poetic new lease of life for a former four-room laborer’s cottage."
Its construction entailed first the retention of an old flint-walled exterior and later the addition of a new volume with an elevated living room and a pair of cottages for the family’s adult children. The parents’ room is tucked away into the first floor of the original structure. Finally, sweeping views of the surrounding fields are provided on all levels thanks to the introduction of the new elements.
Of its sustainability metrics, RIBA says: "From the domestic projects submitted, this was one of the top three submissions for energy performance. It addressed the RIBA 2025 benchmark both with predicted and actual energy use, while the substantial contribution from onsite photovoltaics bettered this performance. The project is also commendable for the attention given to the selection of low embodied carbon materials (from structure to finishes), including the reclamation and reuse of materials wherever possible. The new external masonry is thus made from reclaimed surplus bricks and flint blocks, while the new additions include an insulated timber frame with triple-glazed windows and roof lights."
"Even the internal finishes demonstrate low embodied energy consideration, with the use of bamboo panels and vegetable oil-based plywood, reclaimed floor bricks, natural linoleum, reclaimed undyed wool carpet, self-colored plaster, and zero-VOC paints. Overall, the project has demonstrated meaningful engagement with the agenda to deliver a low-carbon habitation."
One additional shortlisted project will follow via the final broadcast on BBC’s Channel 4 on December 7th. A winner will be announced shortly thereafter. Links to each House of the Year episode can be found here.
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