RIBA House of the Year shortlist grows with addition of two of the UK's best new homes

Levring House by Jamie Fobert Architects, a sophisticated contemporary house on a tight corner site in a central London mews, and Maghera by Mcgonigle McGrath , anexemplary family house in County Down, are the latest homes to be shortlisted for the 2015 RIBA House of the Year award (announced 18 Nov at 10pm), sponsored by specialist insurer, Hiscox. The annual award is run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The projects in the running for the UK’s most prestigious award for a new house are being revealed in a special four part TV series for Channel 4, Grand Designs: House of the Year. During the course of the series which began on Wednesday 4 November 2015, the seven homes shortlisted for the 2015 RIBA House of the Year award will be announced; the winner will be revealed on screen on Wednesday 25 November.

Levring House and House at Maghera join the following four houses on the RIBA House of the Year shortlist, with another yet to be announced:

  • Flint House, Buckinghamshire by Skene Catling De La Pena
  • Kew House, London by Piercy&Company
  • Sussex House, West Sussexby Wilkinson King Architects
  • Vaulted House, London by vPPR Architects


Notes to editors

  1. For further press information contact RIBA Press Office 020 7580 5533
  2. The RIBA House of the Year award (formerly the Manser Medal) is awarded every year to the best new house designed by an architect in the UK. It was created in 2001 to celebrate excellence in housing design.
  3. The judges for the 2015 RIBA House of the Year award, sponsored by Hiscox, are Jonathan Manser, Chair of the jury; James Standen of Hiscox; award-winning architect, Mary Duggan; Chris Loyn, the recipient of the 2014 award and Tony Chapman, RIBA Head of Awards. 
  4. Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, is headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). There are three main underwriting divisions in the Group – Hiscox London Market, Hiscox Re and Hiscox Retail (which includes Hiscox UK and Europe, Hiscox Guernsey, Hiscox USA and subsidiary brand, DirectAsia). Hiscox underwrites internationally traded, bigger ticket business and reinsurance through Hiscox Re and Hiscox London Market. Through its retail businesses in the UK, Europe and the US Hiscox offers a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers, as well as homeowners.  For further information visit
  5. The Architects’ Journal is media partner for the 2015 RIBA special awards, including the RIBA House of the Year
  6. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. Visit and follow us on Twitter.
  7. Grand Designs: House of the Year is produced by Boundless, producers of Grand Designs.
  8. The judges’ full citation and image links follow:

Levring House, London by Jamie Fobert Architects  – shortlisted for the RIBA House of the Year

The spacious and luxurious house fills a corner plot of a typical London mews in Bloomsbury with a heady mix of free-flowing space, light filled voids, fastidious detailing and a brilliant regard for the surrounding context. Externally the building is finished with an elegant palette of Danish hand-made bricks, bronze panels and plenty of glazing to draw natural light into the heart of the house. Great care has been taken to respect the massing of adjacent buildings and sensitively turn the corner from Roger Street into Doughty Mews. A combination of alignments, setbacks and a sunken basement belie the true volume of the house, which includes a garage, extensive plant rooms housing the machinery for deep-bore ground source heat pumps and a delightful 14-m long marble lined lap pool in the basement.

The house is arranged as a series of volumes, which step around a central light-well, which climbs from the basement and is surrounded by full-height sliding glazing. The ground floor includes the entrance, an office, guest accommodation and the garage. The first floor combines a glorious double-height kitchen and dining space, which open onto a hidden terrace to the north, with a more intimate master bedroom overlooking the mews. On the top floor the building steps back out of view from the street with a more formal sitting room opening onto a south facing terrace. Internally the architecture is imbued with high quality materials and elegant detailing, which absorb light, are sensuous to the touch and beguiling to the eye. The concrete frame of the house is exposed in ceilings and columns and offset with timber floors, crafted joinery and plastered walls. This is architecture of sophistication and delight, crafted out of a tight and complex urban site with skill and panache. Complex volumes are rendered simple with a consistency of design approach to provide contemporary living space of the very highest calibre.


House at Maghera, County Down by Mcgonigle McGrath  – shortlisted for the RIBA House of the Year

This family house is on the edge of a clachan, a small grouping of farmsteads, on the leeward side of the stunning Mourne Mountains in County Down and is composed of two linear traditional building forms that continue the existing settlement pattern; each discrete form being displaced and slightly rotated in relation to its neighbour. The two forms are welded together by the extension of roof slopes. The resulting silhouette anchors the house to the ground and fixes it in the landscape. There is real talent and judgment at work here and a deftness of hand that goes far beyond a reimagined vernacular.

The front entrance yard has a cool tension reminiscent of the Mexican architect Luis Barragan, albeit without the colour, and is authentic in its context and meaning. The entrance hall leads to a music room, a trapezoidal volume complete with piano, and enclosed by a pair of folding and sliding barn doors. A guest bedroom to the east occupies the end gable of the shorter building form – a wonderful cavernous volume with a large singular window and timber planks for a floor. The longer range of west-facing living rooms with serried overhead bedrooms all gaze outwards at the Mournes. In the second living room the diagram is subverted by a tall clerestory window reaching through the first floor to scoop morning east-light into this otherwise west-facing space.

This is a family house providing an empathetic framework of beautiful spaces for its occupants, opportunistically using the site and appropriate technologies to achieve an eminently habitable and sustainable home. The quality of construction is very high, exemplary and demanding detailing executed with evident local skill and obvious pride (who said craft was dead?): a credit to architect, client and builder.


Posted on Thursday 19th November 2015

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