RIBA Manser Medal for best new home - shortlist announced

A geometrically playful house in Hampshire; a new build house in Brixton; a fully accessible one-storey home in Hertfordshire; a contemporary redesign of a Grade II* listed manor house and a ‘California’ style home in The Wirral make up the shortlist for the RIBA Manser Medal 2013 for the best new house, the UK’s pre-eminent private housing design award.

The houses shortlisted for the 2013 RIBA Manser Medal are:

  • Astley Castle, Warwickshire by Witherford Watson Mann Architects
  • Crowbrook, Hertfordshire by Knox Bhavan Architects
  • Downley House, Petersfield by Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects
  • Rockmount, The Wirral by shedkm
  • Slip House, London by Carl Turner Architects

The RIBA Manser Medal 2013 shortlist has been chosen from winners of RIBA National Awards and RIBA regional awards. The winner will be announced at the RIBA Stirling Prize party on Thursday 26 September in London. The winning architect will receive a trophy designed by the artist Petr Weigl.

Previous winners include Maison L by architecturepossibles; Hampstead Lane by Duggan Morris (2011), Acme for Hunsett Mill (2010), 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).

This year’s judges include: Michael Manser CBE; Hugh Broughton, architect; Joe Morris, architect; Caroline Cole, architect and Tony Chapman, Hon FRIBA, RIBA Head of Awards.

The Architects’ Journal is media partner for the RIBA Awards and special awards and trade media partner for the RIBA Stirling Prize.


Notes to editors

1. Images of the shortlisted building can be downloaded here:


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

  1. The RIBA Awards have been running continuously since 1966 and are judged and presented locally.  No matter the shape, size, budget or location, RIBA Award winning schemes set the standard for great architecture all across the country. RIBA Awards are for buildings in the UK by RIBA Chartered Architects and RIBA International Fellows. Winners are considered for the RIBA Stirling Prize.
  2. The judges citations follow:

Astley Castle

Nuneaton, Warwickshire, CV10

Architect:  Witherford Watson Mann Architects

Client:  The Landmark Trust

Structural Engineer:  Price and Myers

Services Engineer:  Building Design Partnership

Contractor: William Anelay

Contract Value:  £1,350,000

Date of completion:  July 2012

Gross internal area: 285 sq m

The brief from Landmark Trust was to provide a contemporary house within the footprint of the ruins of a 12th century fortified manor destroyed by a fire in 1978.

The decision to put the bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor and the communal spaces above makes the experience of the house very special. The sculptural central staircase is the pivot around which the bedrooms are organised and leads to an open-plan living space with views over the ancient ruins and the moated gardens.

Perhaps most impressive spaces are outdoors: the ruins of the Tudor and Jacobean wings. The experience and reading of the remains is enhanced by the new interventions.  The architects have developed a set of carefully considered rules and methodology for new construction against the existing structure.


Ware, Hertfordshire

Architect:  Knox Bhavan Architects

Client:  Mark & Bee de Rivaz

Contractor:  Philiam Construction & Developments

Structural Engineer:    Fluid Structures

Services Engineer:  Paul Bastick Associates

Contract Value: confidential

Date of completion:    Dec 2011

Gross internal area:     200sqm

Crowbrook is a house with a mid-20th century feel, in a conservation area in a Hertfordshire village, created for a couple as a place to live and work. The husband has limited mobility therefore the brief demanded maximum accessibility throughout.

This functional requirement has led to a design that considers the house and garden as a world of its own: a place in which it is easy to spend time without feeling the need to escape.

The house is single storey throughout but at its centre, in the living room, the roof pops up to form a tower allowing high-level windows to bring daylight into the heart of the house. The H-shaped plan means the rest of the house also brims with natural light.

Downley House

Ditcham, Petersfield GU31

Architect:  Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects

Client:  Private

Consultants:  Techniker


  Farrer Huxley Associates

Contractor:  Downley Inspiring Construction

Contract Value: confidential

Date of completion:    December 2011

Gross internal area:     650 sq m

This large private house is a tour de force in a technicolour architectural style that derives from that of James Stirling, from whose practice these architects emerged. This means that it is an assemblage of strong primary forms, mostly cylinders and cubes.  The entire structure, including the curved elements, is of cross-laminated timber.

The procurement process was unusual.  The client acted as his own contractor and project manager, and employed sub-contractors directly. The architect's working drawings are in the form of meticulous hand-drawn, coloured and mostly three dimensional details.

Such architecture will not be to everyone's taste, but this is a private house and the client loves it. It is sustainable, exceeding Passivhaus standards, entirely coherent, beautifully realised and, in its own terms, near perfect.



Architect:  ShedKM

Client:  confidential

Contractor:  Paragon Construction Group

Structural Engineer:    Joule Consulting Engineers

Services Engineer:  Progressive Services Design

Contract Value:   confidential    

Date of completion:    Jan 2011

Gross internal area:     450 sqm

The site is an extraordinary elevated mound with views towards the setting sun across the River Dee to the North Wales coast. Shed KM’s ingenious response is a new take on a classic modern linear house plan.

Two linear blocks rotated at 90° to each other divide the house efficiently and cleverly into four zones: children’s rooms, pool, master suite and study and fully-glazed living area.

The impact of the house is disguised with a sandstone semi-buried ground floor plinth allowing the upper accommodation to float over the garden and surrounding landscape. With a few nods in the direction of America’s west coast mid-century modern homes, this is an original and inspiring new composition that matches the quality of its setting in every way.

Slip House

Architect:  Carl Turner Architects

Client:  Private

Structural Engineer:    Structure Workshop   

Contractor:  Carl Turner Architects 

Contract Value: £450,000 

Date of completion:    Sept 2012 

Gross internal area:     195sqm

This elegant and confident project is a prototype house composed of multiple standard elements. Yet the executed design is a highly personal solution, which results in a humane interior environment. A standardised and semi-industrial material palette is employed throughout. Inside and out this house is immaculate in its detail, coordination and execution.

The project demonstrates an admirable commitment to the creation of an exemplar low-energy house, with a suite of sustainable enhancements that are integrated effectively into the building design.

Solar thermal panels are linked to the ground source heat pump to increase efficiency, utilising multiple piled foundations. But at no point do the sustainable ambitions of the project crowd out or dominate the refined quality of the spaces that are created.

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