Six very different projects made it into the final shortlist, but there can only be one winner
House of the Year 2014 kicked off to a flying start with this year's judges: Julian Gitsham (HASSELL), Piers Gough (CZWG Architects) and Tristan Stout (The Ballymore Group). 2014's much-desired shortlist includes a wide geographical spread of schemes, from places situated out in the wilderness to others located in tight urban spaces. Selecting the shortlist culminated in an intense debate where the panel's nominated projects battled it out to make it to the final six. As a result, the projects selected for the shortlist all promote an individual style whilst also pushing the boundaries of design.
The first project to catch the judges' attention early on in the session was Blooming Bamboo House by H&P Architects, located in Vietnam. The stand-out feature of the project was not only its unique design, which responds directly to the severe and varying natural phenomena that occurs in Vietnam, but also its ability to be constructed by its inhabitants within 25 days. With its multifunctional uses as a house, a classroom or a healthcare clinic, the panel recognised the brilliant versatility of the project alongside the sustainability factor. "I think it is just lovely, such a fantastic idea ... I love it!" commented Piers. Julian noted the "beautiful response to the materials," and highlighted the simplicity of the design idea.
The projects that followed were Villa H36 by MBA/S Matthias Bauer in Stuttgart, Germany, and Nannup House by Iredale Pedersen Hook Architects in Australia. The unique stairs in Villa H36 immediately caught the judges' eye with Julian noting, "now that's a staircase isn't it!" The panel also praised the interior of Nannup House for its interaction with the surrounding landscape, leading Piers to say, "These interiors and that view, Wow! It's fabulous."
The next shortlisted project caused quite a reaction with the panel because of its opulent and distinctive aesthetic. Narigua House in El Junco, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, by P+0 Arquitectura was immediately praised for its "clever use of concrete" (Julian Gitsham) and Tristan also picked up on the form of the building, commenting, "Now there's a proper cantilever! You've got an amazing amount of oversized beams which are just stunning." Piers continued the judges' excitement about the house, "It's got a real intensity, I think ... that view is just ridiculous! I love it!"
The penultimate project of the shortlist was The Garden House in London, UK by De Matos Ryan. The judges were momentarily quiet as they took in the white cube that gave the illusion of being held up by nothing. Piers was first to comment, "I saw this and thought, this is lovely. If you're going to do that split of the inside and outside in the kitchen, this is the way to do it!" The one noticeable feature which the judges commented on was, "No windows, there is a purity about that" (Julian Gitsham). "That's a clever little building, there's a real simplicity to it." (Tristan Stout) The verdict was in, and the project sailed into the shortlist.
The final project, which rounded up the shortlist, was #house#1.130 by Estudio Entresitio, in Madrid, Spain. It caused all three judges to contemplate and observe in silence at first. This large-scale, single-family house flows over several levels and is surrounded by a visually permeable layer of very thin rods around most of the external walls. Piers broke the silence, commenting: "There's quite a compressed complexity to it." Julian was not far behind, noting: "Clever planning isn't it, I love the way they bring in the elements of the plan." Tristan was also in complete agreement that this project was one of the best and deserved a place in the final six.
Even after the dynamic discussion about choosing the shortlist, it was clear it wouldn't be easy to decide on the House of the Year 2014. With the panel all split on a couple of the projects, the interrogation became increasingly focused and much more critical. In the end, the debate came down to two very different projects from the shortlist: Blooming Bamboo House & #house#1.130. All three jurors were torn between the well-thought-out and socially conscious Blooming Bamboo and the more individual and original #house#1.130.
Piers was taken by both but, in the end, made his case for the #house#1.130 to win. "There is a multi-layered, ethereal complexity. A very seductive quality between the spaces which is so much more complex for lasting intrigue for the occupiers. Rather than clarity that everyone creates, it has far more long-lasting intrigue from the endless layering," he said. Tristan agreed, commenting: "You really want to understand it and interrogate it." And Julian added: "Amazing simplicity of material, but it's not cold...it's very human!" As a result, house#1.130 was crowned the winner of the 2014 WAN House of the Year Award.
One week later, WAN AWARDS, in partnership with VOLA, held the second House of the Year Award Exhibition at the London VOLA Studio on Great Portland Street, attracting a strong attendance and a great response from the guests. Unfortunately, the team from Estudio Entresito were unable to come along for the evening, but we did have the pleasure of awarding De Matos Ryan their certificate for making it into the shortlist with their project, The Garden House.
Congratulations to all who made it through to the final stages; the competition was very fierce this year. We would also like to say thank you to all who entered and participated in the 2014 edition of the award as it has, once again, been a huge success.
WAN AWARDS Manager