David Kohn Architects’ The Red House in rural Dorset took home the prize over six other shortlisted finalists, including the final candidate — Macdonald Wright Architects’ The Library House — that was named in the same episode.
The traditional English red brick design features sharp green accents around the eaves and windows on its exterior, complemented by a “utilitarian and pragmatic” material palette, joinery, parquetry, and rich blockwork finishes inside in order to form a “playful take on the rural vernacular farmhouse.”
It had previously been lauded by Guardian critic Rowan Moore as a “post-post-modernist” melding of the design philosophies of Louis Kahn and James Stirling and relies on an open floor plan to create a light and “airy” atmosphere ordered by a series of storage cores and punctuated by a central sculptural staircase.
Future accessibility considerations are factored in in the form of grab-rails, a lack of door handles to turn, and an elevator. Outside, a sensibility toward climate change and the local wildlife population is expressed via thick walls, deeper eaves, exposed concrete that maximizes the thermal stability of the interior, and a slate roof that “discreetly” provides a nesting home for bats and other bird species.
RIBA jurist Taro Tsuruta commented: “Ordinary yet quirky, extravagant although utilitarian, The Red House confronts our expectations of a house in a beautiful setting that never wants to settle into being one way or another. An aesthetic and sustainable building with future-proof functionality, it draws on architectural references from Morris to Stirling — with many surprises throughout which were applauded by all the jury members. Internally, the enfilade is formed without doors from the entrance to the living, kitchen and dining area, allowing the space to magically flow. This house was certainly the most debated, which in itself deserves praise.”
“The Red House winning the RIBA House of the Year Award is a validation of the ambition and unerring support of our clients and the dedication of the whole project team," David Kohn added finally. "Furthermore, the jury have chosen to support architecture that is intimate, playful, colorful, and engages both with its context and history. I could not be more delighted.”
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