Joyous and eccentric Dorset home named UK’s best new house

The Red House, a contemporary family home in rural Dorset by David Kohn Architects, has been named RIBA House of the Year 2022.

08 December 2022

The Red House by David Kohn Architects © Channel 4 and Will Pryce

A contemporary new family house in rural Dorset has been named RIBA House of the Year 2022.

The Red House by David Kohn Architects has won the prestigious annual award given by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to the UK’s best new architect-designed house.

The winner was revealed in the final episode of the four-part Grand Designs House of the Year series, on Wednesday 7 December at 9pm on Channel 4.

The Red House is situated in the rolling hills of rural Dorset. The owners fell in love with the idyllic location and stunning panoramic views when they first visited the site in 2011 and, 10 years later, moved into their dream family home.

The house takes inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movement, reinterpreting the style in an intentionally provocative way. The house’s playful eccentricity, including oversized eaves, patterned red brickwork, and contrasting bold green details, jumps out - but this is consistently 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.”

Owner 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."

Chair of the RIBA House of the Year 2022 jury, architect Taro Tsuruta, 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.”

The Red House was revealed as the winner in the final episode of the Channel 4 series Grand Designs House of the Year, broadcast on 7 December 2022.

Also announced this evening 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.

Notes to editors:

  1. Media contact: Eleanor.Finlay@riba.org
  2. Images of all the houses featured on Episode 4 of Grand Designs: House of the Year can be downloaded here: https://riba.box.com/v/2022HOTYEpisode4
  3. The RIBA House of the Year award was established in 2013 and is awarded to the best new house or house extension designed by an architect in the UK. Previous winners include Alison Brooks Architects for House on the Hill (2021), McGonigle McGrath for House Lessans (2019) HaysomWardMiller for Lochside House (2018), Richard Murphy Architects for Murphy House (2016), Skene Catling de la Peña for Flint House (2015), Loyn & Co for Stormy Castle (2014) and Carl Turner Architects for Slip House (2013). The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates.
  4. Grand Designs House of the Year is produced by Naked West (a Fremantle label), producers of Grand Designs.
  5. Naked creates and produces high quality, innovative factual and entertainment programming for the UK, US, and international markets. Current and recent productions include The Apprentice (BBC One), Grand Designs (Channel 4), Snowflake Mountain (Netflix), Louise Woodward: Villain or Victim? (Channel 4), BAFTA-nominated The Rap Game UK (BBC Three), Tonight with Target (BBC Three), The Chasers Road Trip: Trains, Brains and Automobiles (ITV), Secret Crush (ITV2), Trash Monsters (Channel 4), Great British Railway Journeys (BBC Two) and Escape to the Country (BBC One). https://www.nkdtv.com/

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