RIBA South 2018
RIBA South Project Architect of the Year
RIBA Judges comments:
For this project, the ideas of convention and compromise do not exist. It has taken more than a decade from inception to completion, it has been a titanic struggle to win permission and get the thing built, but there is no evidence that anything at any scale has ever been downgraded or any difficulty sidestepped.
And the design, which has taken so much time and effort to realise, is extraordinary in its challenge to convention. The site beside the Thames is spacious and south-facing; the diagram for the building could easily be a simple arrangement of lawns to the river, living spaces facing south, servant spaces on the north, driveway etc etc.
Here though, the diagram is very different - and all the richer and more rewarding for it. The approach to the house is by foot; there is no generous parking forecourt, just a small parking area by the entrance.
Then there is a straight path which first passes a corten ancillary pavilion and then an over-sized reflecting pool, before tucking into the house, confronting a small top-lit court, and finally turning sideways into the living space.
This pattern of movement through major and minor spaces with promenades and pauses continues through the house itself, overturning assumptions about how spaces should be disposed and what they should address. And yet it all works beautifully and the house is clearly a comfort and joy to the clients.
The striking front elevation is a literal one-liner, an S-shaped line of concrete that seems to defy gravity as it hangs over the glass and perforated corten ribbon around the ground floor spaces.
One might imagine that the interior would be servant to the exterior conceit. Not so. Inside is an unexpected pleasure - full of toplight, dramatic panoramic views and finely-crafted features.
This house is an extraordinary achievement both by the clients and by the architects. The design takes cues from history in its use of water, its axial sidesteps and the relationship between house and outhouse. Then it radically reframes these ideas in a wholly new and unique manner: it’s uncompromising and uplifting.
Photographer: Tim Soar