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RIBA Manser Medal 2010 shortlist announced


02 October 2010

Press office contact:

Beatrice Cooke
T: +44 (0)207 307 3813
E: beatrice.cooke@riba.org

A zero carbon house, two large London homes, a converted Napoleonic defence tower and two major extensions to countryside homes make up the shortlist for the RIBA Manser Medal 2010 for the best new house in the UK in association with HSBC Private Bank.

The shortlisted houses are:

  • Bateman’s Row, London by Theis and Khan
  • Furzey Hall Farm, Gloucestershire by Waugh Thisleton Architects
  • Leaf House, London by James Gorst Architects
  • Hunsett Mill, Norfolk Broads by Acme
  • Martello Tower Y, Suffolk by Piercy Conner Architects with Billings Jackson Industrial Design
  • Zero Carbon House, Birmingham by John Christophers

The RIBA Manser Medal is chosen from a list of the best RIBA Award winning houses and given to the best one-off new house or major extension designed by an architect in the UK. The winner will be announced at a prestigious prize ceremony at the RIBA on 11 November 2010 and will receive a new trophy commissioned by HSBC Private Bank and an increased prize fund of £10,000.

Previous winners include Pitman Tozer Architects for The Gap House (2009), Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for Oxley Woods (2008) and Alison Brooks Architects for the Salt House (2007).

Judges for this year’s award are: Michael Manser CBE, HSBC Private Bank’s property expert Peter Mackie, Managing Director of its Property Vision subsidiary, architects Luke Tozer from Pitman Tozer and Deborah Saunt from DSDHA and RIBA’s Head of Awards Tony Chapman.

Ruth Reed, RIBA President, said:

“Designing houses for private clients is always a great opportunity for architects –especially new or smaller practices – to make their name. Yet it is one of the hardest things to get right. On such personal projects the client is understandably very demanding and will have an idea of where they want to end up even if they are not quite sure how to get there.  When the relationship works the results can be astonishing – as this list shows. All of the shortlisted buildings worked within very close constraints – of heritage, space or money to produce the fantastically varied shortlist that we have today.”

Declan Sheehan, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Private Bank, said:

“The RIBA Manser Medal is a leading accolade for architects of new houses in the UK and highlights our global support of excellence in design. The skill, innovation and creativity demonstrated by the shortlisted architects is inspiring, and something that HSBC Private Bank is delighted to be associated with.”

Full citations for all the shortlisted houses are available in notes to editors, as are directions for obtaining images of the houses.

Notes to editors

1.  For interviews and more information about the RIBA Manser Medal shortlisted houses please contact Beatrice Cooke at the RIBA on 020 7307 3813; or beatrice.cooke@inst.riba.org

2.  Images of the shortlisted houses can be downloaded from this site: Manser Medal images.

3.  For interviews and more information about HSBC Private Bank and Property Vision please contact Rachel Myall at Four Communications: rachel.myall@fourcommunications.com 0870 626 9029

4.  Shortlist citations:

Bateman's Row


Architect:  Theis and Khan Architects

Client:  Soraya Khan and Patrick Theis

Contractor:  Silver Interiors Design & Build

Groundwork Contractor: ECS Groundwork

Structural Engineer:  FJ Samuel and Partners

Quantity Surveyor:  Stephen Cuddy

Gross internal area:  867 sq m


Organisationally a complex brief has been dealt with to provide a clear and simple set of complimentary uses, each of which works well on its own and as a whole.


The top floor apartment is accessed via a dual entry lift, which connects directly into the living space as well as by a castle-like spiral stair. The studio and Gallery and the other two flats have separate stairs and entrances from the street, but are connected by the same lift.

The building is an impressive achievement and has taken ten years to realise. The architects have found a way of developing a tight, difficult site in a way that is both spatially and aesthetically rich.  It is a relevant piece of city-making that is ordinary in its programme yet is executed with extraordinary care and judgement.  Bateman’s Mews is adaptable to reuse over time as needs change: not just the separation of the kid’s (2nd) floor as a separate flat with its own entrance door but one could imagine the first floor office being converted into a flat or the ground and basement into retail or office accommodation.  This is the kind of building London – and a depressed market – both need a lot more of.


Furzey Hall Farm


Architect:  Waugh Thistleton Architects

Client:  Confidential

Contractor:  MS Building & Renovations

Structural Engineer:  Elliot Wood Partnership

Services Engineer:  Michael Popper Associates

Pool Design:  Clear Water Revival

Pool contractor: Graduate Gardeners

Gross internal area:  442 sq m


Furzey Hall Farm is a beautiful family house in a very rural location, created from a three storey Victorian Cotswold stone farm cottage and an adjacent barn.  The estate agents who sold the existing property in 2006 were well aware of its potential, describing it as ‘a blank canvas – a dream house for an imaginative buyer... this is an opportunity not to be missed.'

The imaginative clients appointed architects who were also old friends and the collaboration has resulted in the two old buildings being linked together by an elegant new single storey timber and glass building. The link is ‘L’ shaped in plan enclosing two sides of the garden and houses a generous open plan kitchen, dining areas and a new guest suite.

In the dining area huge fully glazed sliding screens can be opened to give access to a decked terrace and swimming pool which is filled with well water filtered through an adjacent reed bed. The roof of the building is cantilevered so that there is no structure along the garden edge.  Children’s bedrooms and a snug sitting room are accommodated within the existing farmhouse.

The barn houses spectacular double height living spaces arranged in a cruciform plan within the central bay of the barn. Beyond this is a quirky open plan bathroom and beautifully detailed metal stairs leading to a mezzanine master bedroom.  The thick rubblework exterior walls of the existing building, now absorbed into the interior of the house, are a delightful contrast to the smooth minimal finishes: glass, tiles, concrete and Brazilian Iroko which are used for the new building.  The architects take sustainability seriously and ground source heat pumps provide heating and hot water.

Throughout the project simple materials have been used in a confident manner; the original elm trusses are retained and the stone walls are left exposed along the gable ends of the barn. The original character of the barn is juxtaposed with bold modern interventions such as the folded steel staircase.  The project is true to its origins, with snug sitting rooms and cellular bedrooms retained in the farm cottage and open-plan living achieved in the barn.  This is a scheme which has given its owners just what they wanted while retaining the architectural integrity of some good rural buildings.


Hunsett Mill



Architect:  Acme

Client:  Confidential

Contractor:  Willow Builders

Structural Engineer:  AKT

Services Engineer:  Hoare Lea

Gross internal area:  215 sq m

Hunsett Mill is a very specific response to a very specific space: an arcadian setting on the Norfolk Broads. The windmill and its out-buildings appear on jigsaws, postcards and chocolate boxes as a famous view from narrow boats.  The new building is conceived as a shadow sitting within the site lines of the retained cottage so that the new building is invisible from that specific viewpoint.

The new building is clad in black, charred timber so that it is truly a shadow, with flush glazing that add to the sense of insubstantiality.  The overall impact is very arresting - more akin to the response to a piece of art than to a piece of rural, domestic architecture.

The judges enjoyed the constant inventiveness of Acme's approach seeking new materials, using intriguing structural forms to create interesting forms, values and visual effects.  The building is used as a weekend/holiday home by a number of families based in London and Hertfordshire. This allows the interiors to continue the inventiveness and drama of the exterior forms without too many domestic constraints.

The roof forms are particularly enjoyable, creating a series of linked gables that are asymmetric but rhythmic.  Internally the structural timber slab is open to the rooms but further changes of angle are added to create a series of interesting spaces, with the first floor walkway to the bedrooms particularly special.  The whole is consistently detailed and well crafted with interesting use of off-site construction.

Overall the restoration of the cottage and the new building, which are linked internally, is an exciting and intellectually stimulating response to the strange rural setting.  A cultured client has given free reign to the innovation of his chosen architects Acme and engineers Adams Kara Taylor.

Hunsett Mill proves that good architecture can be delivered on a budget and that it can be achieved in the most restrictive of situations – Norfolk is not renowned for risk-taking.  The resulting project balances value and quality and is one that many people could aspire to.


Leaf House


Architect:  James Gorst Architects

Client:  Confidential

Contractor:  R Durtnell & Sons

Structural Engineer:  Alan Baxter & Associates

Services Engineer:  Chapman Bathurst

Gross internal area:  575 sq m


There is something of the fortress about this Portland stone tower topped with a glass look-out.  In fact is a thoughtful 21st-century re-interpretation of the Georgian townhouse and provides an extremely comfortable and elegant large family home in a very London street – squeezed as it is between typical 1890s and 1960s accommodation.  The hierarchy of rooms throughout the height of the house are tailored to fulfil the needs of a family with two growing children as well as two parents who both work from home. There is one study within the leaf motif pavilion on the roof and another is in the basement below a large glass light flush with the pavement to the front of the house.

Visitors enter the house into a double height hall with the stair to one side and a particularly long and generous corridor ahead. This leads through to a living room that sits almost as a pavilion in the garden. At ground level there are also two further living spaces, a large family kitchen at the centre and a more intimate family living space to the front with spaces for the kids to do their homework.  Below in the basement there is a further large family room with direct access to a courtyard that connects up to the garden above.  The ‘serious’ office-cum library is also at this below-ground level, but generously lit by the light slots.  Another, more ‘inspirational’ study is on the third floor with borrowed views across gardens. An array of bedrooms with bathrooms occupy the first and second floors.

This is undoubtedly a large and expensive house but it is always extremely well judged and varied in its detail and the concerns of the brief that are addressed in the design are those of so many family homes large and small. Acoustic separation of spaces was an important element of the brief and as a result there are many neat details of doors that can close otherwise open plan arrangements into separate spaces.

Overall there is a simplicity, but always with a richness where required, and always well judged in its detail. House builders can learn from such bespoke projects: the slender LED lighting on the leading edges of the bookcases; the detailing of the steel and walnut handrails on the stairs; the ways doors fold back into the walls; but above all in the plan: the way the spaces interconnect like a Rubik’s Cube.  All house-buyers deserve such care and attention but seldom get it.


Martello Tower Y


Architect:  Piercy Conner Architects with Billings Jackson Industrial Design

Client:  Confidential

Contractor:  Rosewoods

Structural Engineer:  Price & Myers / JP Chick and Partners

Services Engineer:  Norman Disney & Young

Gross internal area:  120 sq m


Martello Tower Y is one of 103 ingeniously-designed artillery towers, built from 1805 at vulnerable points around the south and east coasts to resist Napoleonic invasion. It presents perhaps the ultimate challenge to the housing architect - the issues are manifold.  Bureaucratic: how to deal with a noted ancient monument, especially one that is on the ‘at-risk’ register and is in an area of outstanding natural beauty; what is more how to capture the magnificent views from the rooftop platform when heritage advisors insist it should not be completely enclosed and that any enclosure should be all-but invisible from the ground. Then there is the tricky matter of how to introduce services into a structure with 12 foot thick walls in a way that is elegant and does not compromise what is inevitably a series of tight spaces.  Finally there is the circular configuration: how to design in a way that sees the shape as an advantage not hindrance to creativity.

The architects’ sensitive response is typified by the beauty of the exposed domed brickwork and the indoor-outdoor roof terrace which is oversailed but not enclosed, leaving a third of the roof area open to the considerable elements and providing views across the Suffolk levels and the sea.  In line with best conservation practice, the history of the building has been preserved – details of the gun emplacements co-exist with the barbecue apparatus.  The lightweight steel structure is lit by clerestory windows and rooflights and flagged with stone and kitchen, dining and living accommodation in a light and spacious way that contrasts with the cell-like atmosphere of the bedrooms at ground floor level – which, given that no openings could be cut into the structure, are lit only by light-tubes and by daylight borrowed by cutting away part of the entrance level floor above. This secondary living area features the magnificent, kiln-like brick vaulting that gives the project its poetic quality.


Zero Carbon House


Architect:  John Christophers

Client:  John Christophers

Contractor:  Speller Metcalfe

Structural Engineer:  Shire Consulting

Services Engineer:  LEDA

Gross internal area:  204 sq m

This is not for the architecturally faint-hearted.  Past winner of the RIBA Sustainability Award for a house made of cob walls in Worcester, and director of Associated Architects, John Christophers has transformed an existing end of terrace house into a ground-breaking carbon-neutral family home of rare quality using low energy materials and environmental systems.   It is thought to be the UK’s first house to achieve level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes – seven years ahead of the government’s target date - in fact, thanks to its use of solar thermal and PV panels and a heat recovery system the family did not need to light the wood burning stove throughout an extremely cold winter.  There are other Level 6 sustainable homes including the demonstration Kingspan Lighthouse at the BRE’s Innovation Park near Watford, but this is the first such conversion of an existing house designed to be lived in.

The project involved the conversion and extension of a two bedroom redbrick semi-detached Victorian house into a four bedroom dwelling with a studio loft. It extends upwards and outwards: upwards to catch sunlight which had been blocked by a taller neighbouring house, sideways to create more space for family life and for meditation – the top floor is a tranquil open plan space with remarkable views back to Birmingham city centre. The original 1840 brick house is preserved more or less intact, though internally the volumes have been adjusted.

Integration with the surroundings is important, and the design takes account of the neighbouring architecture.  The neighbours love it, particularly the cheery field of sunflowers crammed into the tiny front garden.  The front and rear elevations are in startling contrast: the front comprises the largely unaltered end of terrace house and an infill of timber and render cubist boxes; the rear is almost Le Corbusian in its simple use of white render and multi-colours on the deep reveals.  Internally the dark pink baked clay floors, re-cycled timber, exposed brick and unpainted lime render give an earthy, womb-like warmth to the house.

Although externally it has a completely different character from the rest of the area, Zero Carbon House adds to the urban streetscape.  It is full of quirky, delightful and well-considered details and is a robust and thoughtful design of exceptional quality.  In its first nine months of occupation the energy performance has outstripped even John Christophers high expectation.  This project shows that energy efficiency does not mean compromising architectural space.


5.  The RIBA Trust manages the cultural assets of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), including the internationally recognised collections of the British Architectural Library. It is the UK’s national architecture centre, delivering the RIBA Awards and RIBA Stirling Prize (broadcast live on BBC TWO); the Royal Gold Medal; International and Honorary Fellowships; a full programme of lectures, exhibitions, tours and other events; and an education programme.



6.  HSBC Private Bank is the marketing name for the private banking business conducted by the principal private banking subsidiaries of the HSBC Group worldwide.


HSBC Private Bank and the private banking activities of HSBC Trinkaus as well as the HSBC Private Banking entities, known collectively as Global Private Banking, provide services to high net worth individuals and their families through over 90 locations in over 40 countries and territories in Europe, the Americas, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa. Private Banking and Wealth Management Services in and from the United States are offered through HSBC Private Bank Americas, a division of HSBC Bank USA, N.A., and HSBC Private Bank International in Miami.


HSBC Private Bank’s profits before tax were US$1,108 million for the year ended 31 December 2009 and combined client assets under management were US$460 billion. For more information about HSBC Private Bank visit www.hsbcprivatebank.com


About HSBC Private Bank’s commitment to architecture and design

HSBC Private Bank’s support of creativity and innovation is demonstrated in its ongoing partnerships with Design Miami/ and Design Miami/Basel, the Pavillon of Art and Design in Paris and the RIBA Manser Medal.


Each allows HSBC Private Bank to connect with clients and prospective clients from around the world and provides access to high-end, design and architecture.


About Property Vision

Property Vision is ‘the buyer’s adviser’ and has been a market leader in real estate for 25 years, operating in London, the country house market and France.


The company has been owned by HSBC Private Bank since 2001 and forms part of the bank’s armoury of advisory services, operating independently from its offices with its own board and the same management that started the business with the backing and reputation of one of the largest financial institutions in the world.


For more information about Property Vision visit www.propertyvision.com


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