The UK’s ‘house of the year 2023’ has been named and it’s basically a greenhouse

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has named the UK “house of the year 2023” and it’s a five-bedroom greenhouse. The Green House by Hayhurst and Co has made its way to the top among the six shortlisted houses across the country. 

Tucked in a back-land alley in Tottenham, north London, Green House is an oasis of plants and natural light. Spitalfields-based architecture studio Hayhurst & Co impressed the jury with their ability to use a tight budget to create a family home full of light and greenery.

Translucent polycarbonate walls reminiscent of a greenhouse cover its cross-laminated timber frame, sliding back to reveal waving fronds of bamboo. When its current owners purchased the site, it was occupied by a run-down house of mixed occupancy (HMO).

Described by judges as a “domestic greenhouse” and an “extraordinary ordinary house”, the revamped terraced house was “built on a very tight budget”.

Chairwoman of the jury, Dido Milne, a director at CSK Architects, 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 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 both luxurious, homely, deeply private and relaxing. It’s an extraordinary ordinary house and a remarkable collaboration.”

Located in the Clyde Circus Conservation Area, the house also has a roof terrace and surrounding greenery, as well as roof-lights in the atrium, and was “built on a very tight budget”.

Photographer Tom van Schelven, who owns the house with Amandine Neyses, uses the space and ceiling height to host picture shoots and as a stage for children’s drama performances, according to Riba.

The materials used include cross-laminated timber walls, which Hayhurst and Co said holds 39 tonnes of sequestered carbon, reclaimed concrete blocks and recycled cork rubber flooring that Riba says is energy efficient.

Air-source heat pumps and solar panels are also used to boost the property’s green credentials. The house was highly commended at the 2022 British Homes Awards and won a 2021 Haringey Design Award.

The home beat a Riba shortlist which included a renovated Devonshire cow shed, from David Kohn Architects, which featured lights once used to warm calves, and a fortress-like home on the banks of Loch Awe in Scotland from architects Denizen Works.

Also among the jury was Bev Dockray, co-founder of Coppin Dockray Architects, Jessam Al-Jawad, director and co-founder of architecture studio Al-Jawad Pike and Albert Hill, co-founder of The Modern House and Inigo.

The award, established in 2013, is presented to the best new architect-designed house or extension in the UK. Last year’s winner was the Red House in Dorset.

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