The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has unveiled 20 high-end homes that will take part in its annual House of the Year competition. From a half-buried London house that sports a mirrored facade, to a Jersey home that draws design cues from Napoleonic and WWII-era fortresses, the competition highlights the best of British residential architecture.

This year's House of the Year (formerly Manser Medal) competition is dominated by English entries, and a total of 17 of the homes on display hail from that part of the UK. The remaining three comprise two Scottish homes and a house from the Channel Islands. No houses from Wales or Northern Ireland made the cut this year.

Below, are a few highlights.

Covert House – DSDHA

Designed by local firm DSDHA to serve as a family home for its founders, London's predominantly concrete-and-glass Covert House sports a novel mirrored facade designed to make the home blend in with its surroundings.

The firm was required to half-bury Covert House to meet restrictive planning laws, and in order to ensure that plenty of natural light reaches within, DSDHA placed windows and light wells in key areas. Measuring 128 sq m (1,377 sq ft), the interior is largely composed of unfinished concrete. This, in addition to the home being part-buried, means that the interior maintains a relatively steady temperature.

Le Petite Fort – Husdon Architects

Le Petit Fort, in Jersey, Channel Islands, was designed by Hudson Architects and occupies the site of a now-demolished farmstead constructed in the early 20th century.

The firm carefully restored the site's existing huge granite walls to ensure privacy for the home's occupants and provide a tough barrier to protect it from the nearby Jersey shoreline. The house itself boasts a floorspace of 471 sq m (5,069 sq ft) and was constructed using Jersey granite, steel, and timber paneling. Its muscular design, which was inspired by Napoleonic-era Martello fortress towers and WWII fortifications, sits very well amongst its surroundings.

Murphy House – Richard Murphy Architects

Murphy House, by Richard Murphy Architects, is located within a World Heritage site in Edinburgh, Scotland, and serves as Richard Murphy's own home. Taking up a compact 11 x 6 m (36 x 19 ft) footprint, its style is influenced by Venetian architecture and has significant sustainable design elements.

A solar array on the roof reduces grid-based electricity requirements, and an efficient computer-controlled air-circulation system ensures fresh airflow throughout the home. Rainwater is collected and reused for toilet flushing and to supply a sprinkler system, while heat from a log-burning stove is reused to pre-heat hot water.

We'll be back later in the year to cover the competition's eventual winner, but until then head to the gallery to take a closer look at each of the houses in the running.

Source: RIBA

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