The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has declared the winner of its annual House of the Year competition. Caring Wood, a 21st Century re-imagining of a traditional English country house, came first out of a strong selection of 20 finalists. It boasts significant sustainable technology and allows three generations of a growing family to live together.
Completed in 2016, Caring Wood is a large luxury home comprising 1,400 sq m (15,069 sq ft) of floorspace and situated in a rolling 84-acre (33-hectare) country estate in Kent, southern England.
Its unusual shape, dominated by four tilting towers arranged around a central courtyard, is inspired by traditional oast houses which were once used for beer production in the area and are defined by their distinctive roofs. The project definitely has a strong local flavor, and makes use of local materials like handmade peg clay tiles and coppiced chestnut cladding.
Its imposing size belies a comfortable interior that's more cosy than you might expect, and architects James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell also ensured that family members can enjoy closeness while retaining that all-important sense of separation and privacy.
"The lively and sculptural house, despite its scale and grandeur, manages to also feel pleasingly domestic and intimate," says RIBA juror Sandra Coppin. "Caring Wood invokes a strong sense of place and time through the skillful use of materiality, form-making and craft. The architects have woven together the strands that make a really good building: form, materiality, function and poetics to produce an ambitious, highly crafted and impressive home."
RIBA's judges also note that the already impressive landscaping will grow to become something really special in a few years from now.
Caring Wood's four towers promote stack ventilation, in a similar way to how a chimney draws in air, to naturally cool its interior. According to the Guardian, ground source heat pumps are installed, which provide efficient heating by drawing warmth from the ground during winter. In addition, an electric car-charging point and solar panel arrays feature in the home.
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