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RIBA House of the Year shortlist grows with addition of two more of the UK's best new homes

RIBA House of the Year 2016 shortlist episode 3

08 December 2016

The Garden House, a home-cum-studio in Hackney with an innovative roof garden, and Modern Mews, a remodelling of the traditional mews house are the latest spectacular homes on the shortlist for the 2016 RIBA House of the Year award, sponsored by Hiscox Home Insurance. The award is run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

All the projects in the running for the UK’s most prestigious award for a new house are being revealed in a special four part TV series for Channel 4, Grand Designs: House of the Year. During the course of the series (which began on Thursday 24 November 2016 at 9pm), the seven homes shortlisted for the 2016 RIBA House of the Year award will be announced; the winner will be revealed on screen on Thursday 15 December.

The latest two projects shortlisted for the 2016 RIBA House of the Year are:

  • Garden House in Hackney, east London by Hayhurst and Co
  • Modern Mews in central London by Coffey Architects

They join the following four houses on the RIBA House of the Year shortlist, with another one yet to be announced:

  • Ansty Plum, Wiltshire by Coppin Dockray
  • Covert House, Clapham, south London by DSDHA
  • Murphy House, New Town, Edinburgh by Richard Murphy Architects
  • Outhouse, Forest of Dean by Loyn & Co Architects

The RIBA House of the Year is sponsored by Hiscox Home Insurance and Paint and Paper Library. Please use @RIBA #HouseOfTheYear in your social media.


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Howard Crosskey, 020 7307 3814
  2. The RIBA House of the Year award is awarded every year to the best new house designed by an architect in the UK. It was created in 2001 (and called the RIBA Manser Medal until 2014) to celebrate excellence in housing design.
  3. The judges for the 2016 RIBA House of the Year award, Chair, Meredith Bowles from Mole Architects, RIBA Awards Jury Chair and RIBA House of the Year longlist 2015, Charlotte Skene Catling from Skene Catling de la Pena, RIBA House of the Year winner 2015, Jonathan Dallas from Dallas Pierce Quintero, RIBA House of the Year longlist 2015, Elle Stathaki Architecture Editor for Wallpaper* and Phil Thorn, Head of Direct Homes Insurance Hiscox.
  4. Hiscox is a global specialist insurer with a 100 year heritage of insuring unusual or complex risks, such as high value homes, fine art and other collections. RIBA House of the Year is sponsored by Hiscox Home Insurance, visit for more information about our Home Insurance.
  5. Paint & Paper Library was established in London over 20 years ago: its mission is to provide inspiration, colour expertise and design ideas for interior decorators, architects, specifiers and discerning homeowners worldwide. The company’s paints are credited with creating an unrivalled balance of colour, mood and light in contemporary interiors. Paint & Paper Library’s colour card falls into two sections: ‘Architectural Colours’ and ‘Original Colours’. ‘Architectural Colours’ is an easy-to-use, colour-by-number system, designed to provide simple alternatives to white. It comes in a choice of 95 graduated shades, individually formulated using different strengths of the same pigments to achieve subtle shade differentiations within any interior. The company also prides itself on producing the flattest emulsion on the market, as well as several more durable finishes for ‘every day’. For more information visit
  6. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. @RIBA
  7. Grand Designs: House of the Year is produced by Boundless, producers of Grand Designs.

The RIBA judges’ full citations and image links for each building follows:

Garden House by Hayhurst and Co

The Garden House replaces a single storey workshop built by the Clients in the mid-1990s. The brief was to form a home and studio; which maximised the space and natural light available within their tight 85 square metre site behind Victorian housing in Hackney’s de Beauvoir Conservation area.

The house is entered through a winter garden flooded with top-light from a mirror-polished stainless steel clad rooflight. This leads on to a connected set of living spaces lit by natural light through strategically placed and sculptured rooflights. These give the ground floor an ethereal quality of light, which sets off the careful selected material palette. The clients’ art collection is displayed on bespoke steel shelves that continue on to a folded steel staircase that is carefully disengaged from the wall, to allow natural light to pass behind it. The upper room is lined with oak panelling, forming a workshop for sewing and embroidery, as well as a fitting room for visiting clients. This space is naturally lit from a large central rooflight.

The roof is a bespoke hanging garden, formed by refined, lapped, and elegant stainless steel trays hung over a GRP membrane. 800 sedums and heathers are planted into the stepped beds. They replicate the character of the planting and fauna of Dungeness where the owners also have a second home. Neighbours must be delighted with their views down onto this unusual stepped roof garden.

The Jury was captivated with the exquisite detailing that went into this house. The architects have skilfully created a rich and layered experience in a very small space. It gives the owners a peaceful and private space to live and work, which is a real achievement given the overlooked and enclosed nature of the site.

Modern Mews, London by Coffey Architects

The challenges involved in making a home from an existing mews house enclosure are two-fold – firstly to carve a useful space from a small site of approximately three by eight metres and secondly to bring light into what is a single aspect building. Effectively, it is an intricately designed and constructed piece of joinery crafted to live in.

The existing four storey mews house suffered from a dark interior due to only having windows to the front despite being 8m deep. The master bedroom and en-suite on lower ground enjoyed no natural light and the bedrooms on top floors felt disconnected and underused due to the tiny spiral stair at the rear of the building.

Coffey Architects moved the stair to the centre to avoid corridors taking up valuable space and approached the whole project as one large piece of joinery adding clarity to the and connectivity to the whole house. At the centre a stair pierces four floors of accommodation in a spectacular burst of light. This staircase is also the organisational structure bringing a rationale to the planning and layout of the house.

Its open treads in connection with the glazed landings and the glazed roof above allow natural lighting to enter at the centre of the plan. Additionally translucent sliding doors are added so the rooms enjoy natural light even when the doors are closed. The living area and the master bedroom and en-suite has been swapped around. A glass floor has been introduced to the front of the house on the ground floor allowing natural light to the living room on the lower ground.

The detailing is exquisite, the warmth of the oak timber brings a tactile quality which is further enhanced by the sliding doors, which with an inner layer of rice-paper sets up illusionary views across the plan. The glass-floored light wells further enhance the illusion of depth and perspective as one moves vertically through the house. The white painted textured inner brick skin helps with the refraction of the light, adding to a kaleidoscope effect. This lining cleverly conceals many of the services.

A fine marriage of planning, control of light and rigorous detailing has very cleverly multiplied the use of space to create a family home well beyond the client’s aspirations.

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