Gap House, an exceptional architect-owned private family house in west
London, by Pitman Tozer Architects has won the 2009 Manser Medal in association with the Rooflight Company.
Awarded for the best one-off house or housing designed by an architect in the United Kingdom, the Manser Medal is named after Michael Manser, former president of the RIBA who is famed for his designs of seminal steel and glass houses in the 1960s; the same materials utilised in the Rooflight Company’s products.
The announcement of the Manser Medal winner was made on Saturday 17 October at a special awards ceremony for the RIBA Stirling Prize in association with The Architects' Journal and Crystal CG at Old Billingsgate in London, introduced by Tom Dyckhoff, architecture critic for The Times newspaper. The winner was announced by Michael Manser CBE, former president of the RIBA and presented with a cheque for £5,000 by sponsor Valerie King of the Rooflight Company. The award was judged by a panel including Michael Manser; Valerie King; previous winner Ivan Harbour, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners; and Tony Chapman, RIBA head of awards.
The brief the architect set himself, as his own client, was to design a family house on a site reached through a 2.4 metre wide gap between two white stucco villas, on Monmouth Road in Bayswater. The site widens out behind the villas and was previously occupied by a cottage which had become derelict. Although from a planning point of view its existence helped, there were other problems, including its position in a conservation area with significant members of a powerful residents' association as close neighbours.
Speaking about the scheme, Michael Manser said:
“Once again the Manser Medal has been won by an intelligent, simple, practical, high-quality design that makes most of the housebuilding industry look inadequate. The design is one of impeccable detailing and simplicity in every respect. The narrow front elevation is an acme of understatement and although frankly modern, at a first glance makes almost no impact. Just a narrow column of identical half shuttered casement windows, above a basement-level entrance door, all in a background of white stucco to match the adjoining houses.’
Valerie King of the Rooflight Company said:
“Overall the most impressive aspect of the design is its level of skill, imagination and practicality in creating a series of apparently generous spaces, despite all the constraints of overlooking, conservation policies and initially hostile residents association. The result is a comfortable home in a great piece of architecture.”
The other buildings shortlisted for the award were:
Block 3, Tarling Estate Regeneration, London by S333 Architecture and Urbanism
House in Highgate Cemetery, London by Eldridge Smerin Architects
House at Piper's End, Hertfordshire by Niall McLaughlin Architects
Sliding House, Suffolk by dRMM