House on the Hill, a strikingly contemporary extension to a Georgian farmhouse in Gloucestershire, designed by Alison Brooks Architects, has been named RIBA House of the Year 2021: awarded annually to the best architect-designed house in the UK.
To complement its arresting new wing, the 18th century stone farmhouse, which overlooks the Wye Valley in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has also been meticulously restored. Together the farmhouse and extension create an extraordinary new home for the owners and their art collection. The three-storey farmhouse has been converted into one vast gallery space that seamlessly integrates with the contemporary extension.
Larger than the original house, the new two-storey wing is set back, partially embedded into the hillside, with its dark tones and cladding pattern inspired by the nearby Forest of Dean.
On the ground floor, the kitchen, living and dining areas flow into each other and onto exterior terraces. With the kitchen in the centre, overlooked by a gallery on the floor above, the space is flooded with natural light, and offers up panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including into a new, bespoke dry-stone-walled garden.
The home's main staircase doubles-up as a gallery and leads up to two bedrooms, an office and a further terrace.
From the skylights to the walls and the cruciform-steel-columns, the angles throughout the house are intentionally skewed and undulating, echoing the topography of the adjacent meadows, and drawing the eye onwards to new and surprising focal points. Niches, benches and recesses add to the fluidity and playfulness of the space and provide practical areas to display the owner's art.
Ground and air source heat pumps and solar panels work together to reduce the buildings overall energy consumption, and the new wing has an extensive green roof planted with native wildflowers to reduce rainwater loss. As part of the renovations, the surrounding grounds have also been revitalised with new wildflower meadows and orchards, bordered by hedges that have been repaired and renewed with pollen-rich species of plants.
RIBA President, Simon Allford said:
“This geometric design skilfully fuses together the old with the new – connecting two architectures separated by over 300 years.
Intriguing and distinguished, House on the Hill is the impressive result of a ten-year collaboration between the homeowners and their architect. This is an extraordinary labour of love in architectural form.
Every detail has been meticulously considered and exquisitely finished, resulting in a truly remarkable home that enhances its unique setting.”