Advertisement

RIBA House of the Year 2023: ‘Tottenham riad’ named best home of the year

Green House, the only London home shortlisted for RIBA House of the Year 2023, has been crowned the best new home in the UK.

Designed by Spitalfields-based architecture studio Hayhurst & Co, the five-bedroom home occupies part of a back-land alley in Tottenham.

Its greenhouse-style translucent polycarbonate walls covering bamboo-filled planters and balconies proved a hit with the judges.

For the occupants, it’s the stage-like stepped levels and floor-to-ceiling curtains that act as room dividers that have been the biggest success.

Bamboo covers the street-facing facade of the aptly named Green House (Kilian O'Sullivan/VIEW)
Bamboo covers the street-facing facade of the aptly named Green House (Kilian O'Sullivan/VIEW)

Owners Tom and Amandine’s children use the curtains as the perfect setting for impromptu drama performances, while Tom, a photographer, hosts his own shoots in the house.

“Green House, affectionately known as the ‘Tottenham Riad’, is a true oasis within the city,’ said jury chair Dido Milne, director of CSk Architects.

“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 ‘Tottenham riad’ nickname is a nod to the atrium in the centre of the five-bedroom home, topped by skylights to bring natural light into the home.

The rear façade faces out over the garden and woodland beyond (Kilian O'Sullivan)
The rear façade faces out over the garden and woodland beyond (Kilian O'Sullivan)

A riad, from the Arabic word for garden, is a form of traditional Moroccan architecture that features an interior courtyard garden.

Owners Tom and Amandine briefed Hayhurst & Co to create a low-cost and functional home for their family with as much living space as possible and access to nature.

The architects employed biophilic design techniques, filling the cross-laminated timber-framed home with areas for planting and creating vistas through to the garden and the rewilded woodlands beyond.

Bamboo acts as a natural screen on the front façade, allowing the translucent panels to be pulled back to allow airflow through the rooms without compromising privacy on the constrained city plot.

Curtains double as room dividers in the plant-filled house (Kilian O'Sullivan/VIEW)
Curtains double as room dividers in the plant-filled house (Kilian O'Sullivan/VIEW)

The courtyard also aides with the house’s energy efficiency and sustainability, circulating air through the house.

Along with the timber frame, material choices such as recycled cork rubber flooring and reclaimed concrete blocks at to green House’s eco-credentials.

“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,” said Milne.

“On a confined urban site, the house was delivered to a tight budget with an economy of means — and it remains richer for it,” she added. 

“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.”

Bestowed by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the award recognises "the best new house designed by an architect in the UK".

No London home has been awarded the annual prize since it rebranded from the Manser Medal to the RIBA House of the Year Award in 2015.

Last year the prize went to the Red House in Dorset, designed by David Kohn Architects, and in 2021 Alison Brook Architects House on the Hill in Gloucestershire took the top gong.