Five homes in London have been put on the shortlist for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) House of the Year award. The winner will be announced on 25th November.
A quarter of the 20 finalists are in the capital, with developers keen on defying London’s tight space restrictions with imaginative homes.
The award replaces the RIBA Manser Medal, indicating how significant housing design has become.
Two of the London finalists are large, glamorous and expensive homes.
Fitzroy Park House in Hampstead, by Stanton Williams, is a gleaming, modern masterpiece. It is situated on a steep slope on the site of a 1950s home. The architects took advantage of the slope, by placing the entrance at the house’s midpoint, complete with a slim, steel bridge.
The house is built from large panes of glass, pale limestone and lots of wood, from cedar and iroko to grey-painted Accoya outside.
Inside, the floors and ceilings are made of oak. All six bedrooms have an en suite, with timber-clad balconies on a cantilevered upper floor. Although the home is extremely transparent, the 6,000 square foot property is also private, looking out onto Fitzroy Park.
Levring House is located in the Bloomsbury conservation area. Architect Jamie Fobert has created a huge, cuboid property at the end of a mews. However, by sinking it into a basement and forming a broken exterior of brick, glass and bronze, its size melds in perfectly with neighbouring houses.
It sits around a glazed atrium that goes up through the centre. The concrete home, with double-height spaces, a secret terrace and a 14-metre marble-lined pool in the basement is completely out of the ordinary.
Kew House is in another conservation area, Kew Green. Integrated into a Victorian wall, this brave pre-fabricated building was created by Piercy & Company using Corten steel, which goes rusty on purpose to create striking colours.
The home was built for a structural engineer couple, who were involved in the whole process of construction. The two steel volumes are connected by a double-height glass atrium.
The site was found near Kew Gardens by accident. It was previously a stable block. The steel features laser-cut patterns and a slide for the children straight down to the basement. The home also has lots of storage, making it perfect for the family.
Other homes highlight the creativity of architects in finding difficult spaces and maximising their potential.
Vaulted House by vPPR Architects was built on the site of a former taxi garage in Chiswick, which was encased by brick walls with 24 overlooking neighbours. All of the home’s light comes from the top, through six geometrically coved roof lights.
A covered passage through to the house makes it a secret spot. On two levels, the roof lights bring in natural light to the upper floor, highlighting certain areas within the open-plan living space, which features geometric ceilings. The lower level is where the bedrooms can be found, but a retracting flat glass roof section pours light down there too. The space below can be used as a summer courtyard or winter garden.
Courtyard House makes use of a similar wall-bound site in Hackney – a long, triangular sliver. Architects Dallas Pierce Quintero cleverly inserted a small two-bedroom home using timber, brick and glass, with four separate courtyards. The discouraging space and a tight budget were defeated by the original design.
Through an industrial gate is the first courtyard, then a studio, then a herb garden, then the main house, another courtyard at the back with French windows, and a tiny space with an olive tree. Thoughtful use of exposed joists and blue-black bricks give the property a distinct, luxurious feel.
We’ll be looking out for the winner next week, but any of these inventive homes could take the crown.