"Dream home on a budget" wins RIBA's House of the Year
House Lessans, by McGonigle McGrath, has been declared this year's winner of the prestigious House of the Year award by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Described as a dream home on a budget by RIBA, it's located on a former farmstead among agricultural buildings in County Down, Northern Ireland.
House Lessans features a simple exterior, with its zinc roof helping it take its place well next to an adjacent barn. Its 235 sq m (2,529 sq ft) interior is split into two wings: one private area for bedrooms and another for communal living spaces, and its generous glazing is arranged to frame views of the beautiful rural countryside.
"The house is conceived as two simple elements arranged in relation to the retained and re-used barn, to create the enclosure associated with vernacular clusters, and to permit visual and physical connections to the rolling landscape to the south and west," explains McGonigle McGrath. "The first element, containing only bedrooms, is positioned to create the sloping arrival yard, and an enclosed space to the rear. The second living element is rotated to address the view. The entrance is positioned between these elements and allows the visitor the experience of both enclosure and landscape."
It's worth noting that budget is relative when it comes to high-profile architecture awards and we're not talking about a US$10,000 home here. House Lessans' construction cost came in at £335,000 (roughly $430,000), which is relatively inexpensive for this kind of architect-designed home.
This was achieved in part with the use of basic building materials. For example, the walls are made of concrete blocks, and fixed windows were installed as a cheaper alternative to bifold doors. The interior layout and decor were kept simple too.
"House Lessans demonstrates that life enhancing architecture does not have to cost the earth," says RIBA President Alan Jones. "Executed with incredible clarity and restraint, McGonigle McGrath have used simple and cheap materials to create a truly bespoke home that resonates with its owners and its context. Even with the tightest of budgets, House Lessans shows that a dream home, designed by a talented architect, can be a reality."