Situated in the Dorset countryside, The Red House won the prestigious annual award given by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to the UK’s best new architect-designed house.
The result was revealed in the final episode of the four-part Grand Designs House of the Year series, on 7 December on Channel 4.
The Red House is situated in the rolling hills of rural Dorset. The owners fell in love with the idyllic location when they first visited the site in 2011 and, 10 years later, moved into their dream family home.
The house is described as taking its inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movement. It has oversized eaves, patterned red brickwork, and contrasting bold green details underpinned by outstanding craftsmanship and attention to detail.
The open plan ground floor creates a light, airy atmosphere. Different ‘rooms’ are formed by walls moving in and out of alignment – offering only glimpses into the different areas, rather than a full view down the length of the house. This provides the practical and accessible ease of open plan living, alongside the cosiness of more enclosed spaces. The staircase is a central feature of the house – a sumptuous, sculptural design sweeping up to the first floor and dropping down through a projecting bay window.
The owners wanted a home that could adapt for future accessibility needs. The staircase has two handrails, there are rounded corners on built-in furniture, grab-rails on the fronts of cupboards, no door handles to turn – and even a lift. This thoughtful design future proofs, without comprising on the needs of the present or the style of the house.
Consideration has also been given to designing for climate change. The house has thick walls and deep eaves, serving to protect the façade from the elements and minimise overheating during summer months – crucial considerations as the climate progressively changes. The concrete has been left exposed to maximise the thermal stability of the interiors and the deep concrete foundations have been replaced by steel piles, reducing the embodied carbon in the groundworks.
Biodiversity has been woven in, with the slate roof discretely providing a home for the local bat population. Further nesting sites have also been incorporated into the brickwork and eaves to encourage wildlife.
Architect, David Kohn, said: “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. Furthermore, the jury have chosen to support architecture that is intimate, playful, colourful, and engages both with its context and history. I could not be more delighted.”
Owners of The Red House said: “We never expected to win the award, so are beyond thrilled that the quality of design was recognised. It is hard as novices to design a new house in a sensitive rural location, but if we’d built an invisible house or a pastiche design it would have been a cop-out. We love the house and its happy eccentricity.”
Architect Taro Tsuruta, chair of the RIBA House of the Year 2022 jury, said: “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.”
Also announced on 7 December was the seventh and final home shortlisted for the RIBA House of the Year 2022: The Library House by Macdonald Wright Architects.
The full shortlist for the RIBA House of the Year 2022 is:
- Seabreeze by RX Architects
- The Red House by David Kohn Architects
- The Dutch Barn by Sandy Rendel Architects Ltd
- Mews House Deep Retrofit by Prewett Bizley Architects
- Surbiton Springs by Surman Weston
- Suffolk Cottage by Haysom Ward Miller
- The Library House by Macdonald Wright Architects
The jury for the House of the Year 2022 was: Taro Tsuruta (chair), founder Tsuruta Architects; Alison Brooks, founder and creative director of Alison Brooks Architects; Yinka Ilori, founder of Yinka Ilori Studio; Ben Ridley, founder and director at Architecture for London; Nicola Tikari, co-founder and director of Tikari Works.
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