Architects are first of seven finalists to be announced over coming weeks

Breathtaking homes by Alison Brooks and Tonkin Liu have been revealed as the first finalists for RIBA House of the Year 2021.

The projects are drawn from 20 longlisted schemes announced last month, and from which a further five candidates will be picked over the coming weeks until the overall winner is announced in December.

Stirling Prize winner Brooks’ project is House on the Hill, in Gloucestershire: the transformation of a small 18th-century farmhouse into both a home and a gallery of Indian and African sculpture.

Awards judges said the project, delivered in four phases over the course of a decade, was a “a labour of love by client and architect working together with what appears to have been a complete unity of purpose”.

They added that although House on the Hill’s extension is larger than the original farmhouse it is clearly subordinate – at the same time as boasting interior elements that make it a “sidelong homage to Mies van der Rohe”.

Tonkin Liu’s conversion of a 1950s water tower in Norfolk into a multi-level home with a 360-degree viewing terrace has already won the Stephen Lawrence Prize so far this year.

House of the Year judges said the transformation had been “handled effortlessly”, with the complete avoidance of “pretentious reinterpretation or cliché”.

“Standing tall within a setting of fields of barley, the Water Tower, whilst extensively refurbished, has retained a strong and honest agricultural aesthetic,” they said.

Two further shortlisted candidates for RIBA House of the Year will be announced in the Channel 4 programme Grand Designs: House of the Year on Wednesday next week.

The jury for the 2021 awards includes Groupwork chairman Amin Taha; Ash Sakula Architects founder Cany Ash; and Kieran McGonigle, co-founder of 2019 House of the Year winner McGongle McGrath.