Caring Wood - RIBA House of The Year 2017
Caring Wood, a monumental home described as an “Oust House on steroids” has been crowned House of The Year 2017 by RIBA. Grand Designs has been following the lengthy process of narrowing down a very long list of entries to compile a shortlist of 7 homes across the UK. The homes fall into 4 loose categories; homes inspired by local tradition, homes inspired by water, rural homes and minimalist homes. We take a look at the Winner and the other 6 homes that made the shortlist.
WINNER – Caring Wood
By James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell
A monstrous 1,443 square metre property on a whopping 84 acre plot, Caring Wood takes inspiration from its Kent countryside surroundings, putting it in the ‘local traditions’ category. Based on the Oast Houses (originally kilning buildings) that are found all over Kent, Caring Wood comprises of 4 separate oast-inspired towers centred around a main family building with a 3 storey central courtyard that acts as a haven for peace and quiet.
Locally sourced materials help Caring Wood to blend in with the Kentish landscape. Both the floor tiles and the peg roof tiles are made from Kentish clay, the exterior of the house is clad in locally quarried ragstone and local coppiced chestnut provides more cladding.
The house was created for 3 generations of the same family as a holiday home and somewhere to escape to, but also doubles up at a public space with a gallery and music performance space on the upper level of the main building. Down the grand staircase you’ll find a more intimate family arrangement with 4 separate living areas (the 4 towers) which are connected to the main building by hidden passageways. The contemporary interior and oast inspired towers completely re-imagine the Traditional English Country Home.
THE SHORTLIST – AT A GLANCE
Situated in Northumberland, another home inspired by local tradition is Shawm House. The core structure of the building is constructed from locally quarried stone and clad in larch from just south of Scotland (still fairly local). Even the upside-down living arrangements (bedrooms downstairs and open plan kitchen/living room upstairs) is a nod to Northumberland history. On the grounds of a farm, the house incorporates the original stables, which has been transformed into a generously sized study. The immaculate construction and wonderful views made this a worthy contender.
By Tonkin Liu
“Growing out of the land in which it is embedded” is the beautiful Ness Point, designed with undulating walls to echo the curve of the White Cliffs of Dover on which it proudly sits. The clean white chalk structure belongs to an Interior Designer, so as you would imagine, it’s not just the smooth exterior that impresses. The imaginative layout, breath-taking views and voluptuous body put this home on the shortlist in the ‘Inspired by Water’ catergory.
6 Wood Lane
This self-build project was 7 years hard work and meticulous planning from a couple (one an interior designer, the other an architect) who’s dream was to build a seaside home…in North London. The narrow, 4 storey, nautical inspired home earned its place on the Shortlist for ingenuity and originality. Described by the judges as a “ship that’s run a ground in suburbia”, the property is a cross between a boat and a house, with a lighthouse hallway, portholes for windows, an upturned hull for a roof and spiral, boat-like staircases. You can understand why it caught the eye of the judges looking for homes inspired by water.
You might not have expected a bungalow to feature on the Shortlist, but this gravity defying, cleverly cantilevered single storey home is one of beauty, elegance and simplicity. Created from concrete, wood and glass, it was the result of the owners 20 year search for the perfect plot of land. The main body of the house is an enormous open plan kitchen and living room with bedrooms and studies at either end. With solar panels, locally sourced limestone floor and all surrounded by a green backdrop of trees, this rural home is as easy on the eye as it is on the environment.
Newhouse of Auchengree
This contemporary farmhouse in North Ayrshire was designed for cross country running fanatics, to celebrate their love for the outdoors. The majority of the building is clad in zinc which reflects the light and clouds of the North Ayrshire landscape. Once inside, the light and bright interiors are complemented by the remarkable views, which can be seen from every room. The whole house is a cluster of separate buildings all cleverly connected, just like a traditional farmhouse.
A comparatively tiny property, Hidden House sits on a site once occupied by a caretaker’s shed in Clerkenwell. The wonderful clever use of space, simple palette of materials and stripped back design have earned this home a place on the shortlist as the only entry in the ‘minimal’ category. The vaulted roof allows a surprisingly large amount of light to flood in, and at the same time acts as a divide for the 4 sections of the living area. This characterful home proved that sometimes the best things come in small packages.