London terraced house wins RIBA House of the Year award

A terraced house in north London, described as a `domestic greenhouse’, has been named the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) House of the Year 2023. The Green House, tucked away down an alley in Tottenham, won the annual award which recognises the best example of one-off house design in the UK.

The terraced house is filled with light. Source: Kilian O’Sullivan.

Imaginative scheme in the inner suburbs

This five-bedroom terraced house, described as a `riad-inspired urban oasis,’ was designed by London-based architectural studio Hayhurst & Co. It connects to nature by blurring indoor and outdoor spaces with a central atrium, bamboo, and sliding polycarbonate screens, double-aspect views of the gardens, and a roof terrace. Dense planting shields it from neighbouring properties and provides a private outdoor space in this residential street of traditional terraced houses.

It was praised for the way the architects flooded the structure with natural light to create an `extraordinary ordinary house’ on a tight urban plot. Using a simple block form plan and creatively using sustainable materials, the architects created a terraced house filled with light coming from a `vast and dramatic central atrium’ to the first floor. The design created a private living area with generous spaces, all within a modest budget.

New vision for a terraced house

The RIBA jury said that the house had `creatively reimagined a typical terraced house’, creating a practical solution that can be subdivided by floor-to-ceiling curtains. It is connected by a green-painted steel staircase ascending from the atrium.

This terraced house stands in a street and area comprising a mix of Victorian terraced houses, semi-detached houses, detached houses, and Georgian properties. Tottenham is home to a mix of family types, from young professionals to young families with children and retirees, and is popular for its blend of urban living with green spaces nearby and rapid transport links to central London.

A terraced home converted with great attention to detail

Commenting on this outstanding terraced home conversion, the jury chair and director of CSK Architects, Dido Milne, said:

Green House, affectionately known as the `Tottenham Riad’, is a true oasis within the city. It is both airy and cosy, bold yet respectful of its neighbours. Your eye is simultaneously drawn upwards to the open sky and down and out across the living room to verdant greenery. 

The close architect and client relationship, with a joint desire to deliver a truly sustainable home, is evident in all of the design decisions and detailing.

On a confined urban site, the house was delivered to a tight budget with an economy of means – and it remains richer for it. Nowhere do you feel the site or budget was restricted. It feels luxurious, homely, deeply private and relaxing. It’s an extraordinary ordinary house and a remarkable collaboration.

Converted cowshed. Source: Max Creasy.

Energy efficient conversion

The Green House beat five other finalists including David Kohn Architects’ converted cowshed which won the Manser Medal – AJ House of the Year Award in November 2023. This 1970s agricultural building in south Devon was retrofitted, with energy efficiency at its heart, using local materials including concrete blocks from Cornwall and Devon cedar boarding, to create an artist’s studio, office and living space.

This highly sustainable project was completed on a limited budget and retained as much of the existing fabric as possible, such as timber trusses. It forms part of a site regeneration project to create a co-housing community.

Established in 2013, The RIBA House of the Year award is awarded to the best new house or extension designed by a UK architect.

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