RIBA House of the Year Is an Off-Grid "Sustainable" Gem

©. Richard Fraser

It helps to have such a stunning lakeside site.

While visiting London recently I watched Grand Designs for the first time, an episode on "extreme houses." There was one we particularly liked, the Lochside House by HaysomWardMiller Architects. It has now won the award for House of the Year from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

panorama view of Lochside House

© RIBAThe house is seriously off-grid, by a lake in the highlands, designed for a ceramic artist who must do very well, because this was a seriously expensive house. The description says "all energy comes from the sun and water is pulled up from a borehole," although the plans indicate a generator room. According to the press release:

Drone view


"It wasn't straightforward," said Tom Miller, the architect of Lochside House. "It was only possible because we had a client with the uncompromising determination and vision to keep pushing us to achieve our best, and a contractor’s team for whom we have enormous respect - they seemed to thrive on the unique challenges posed by building on such an exposed and inaccessible site."

closeup of cladding

© Richard Fraser

It is very common for houses in Scotland to be built without roof overhangs; traditionally they were built this way so that the roofs would not get ripped off in high winds.

The buildings are tucked into a natural fold in the landscape, clad in burnt Scottish larch and protected by a traditional drystone wall. They appear almost camouflaged.
summer shot

© Owner via RIBA

But I am not convinced by this trend to having wood roofs. Clearly, there has to be another roof under it that actually keeps the rain out, and there is a lot of it in the Scottish Highlands. It just seems like a lot of maintenance for a look of wood.

Dining area inside

© Richard Fraser

The house is lovely inside, too; according to the head of the jury:

"Inside, the spaces merge with the artist owner's art collection, and there is an overwhelming sense of comfort, warmth and homeliness." said the Chair of the RIBA Jury, Takero Shimazaki. "It's an example of humble, grounded, contextual yet powerful architecture that people can aspire to and be inspired by.”

All of the RIBA house candidates were lavish and expensive and most were beautiful, if over the top. RIBA calls this one "a small-scale, sustainable home made from local materials." I am not sure about small; and the word sustainable is always problematic, but it is lovely to look at.

Watch the show if you can get through all the signup rigmarole here on Grand Designs.

Plan of house

© HaysomWardMiller Architects