Team scoops £10,000 award for rural co-living concept

Davidson Prize Charles Holland

This year’s winning team

Charles Holland Architects with Verity-Jane Keefe, Joseph Zeal-Henry and the Quality of Life Foundation have been named winners of the 2022 Davidson Prize for transformative housing architecture.

The team was awarded £10,000 for their submission, titled Co-Living in the Countryside, a shared housing concept which aims to combat issues including loneliness and affordability.

They pipped finalists Moebius Studio and Child-hood, selected from a long list featuring Tonkin Liu, Living Streets, Azhar Architecture and the winner of the evening’s people’s choice prize, Heta Architects.

It was the second annual Davidson Prize, with this year’s brief asking entrants to draw up ideas for co-living. Haptic Architects were the winners of last year’s inaugural award, which focused on future ways of working.

Charles Holland Architects

The winning 2022 Davidson Prize entry, produced by Charles Holland Architects with the Quality of Life Foundation, Verity-Jane Keefe, and Joseph Zeal-Henry

Holland told Building Design that this year’s winning team had sought to invent “experimental and radical” models for how people might live in rural areas.

He said: “Our thought was to look at co-living in a rural context, highlighting what was in the brief about loneliness, lack of affordability, lack of joint childcare and all sorts of issues which are most acute outside of cities. 

“There has also been a lack of attention to new housing in rural spaces generally within the industry. The quality of new housing in those places is generally very poor and is based on a very single dominant model.”

Keefe added that the team had wanted to avoid designing a “static” form of housing and instead develop a “practical” typology which could grow and adapt to families and communities as they change.

Explaining the thinking behind the submission, she said: “Families are really complex and where we live is really complex, so how do you make space for the individual, the intergenerational family, the family which both expands and shrinks? So we really wanted to allow that nuance.”

In designing the concept, the team was inspired by influences ranging from early 20th century self-built homes to 1970s co-living housing. 

But Holland said that setting up a team with different voices and different areas of expertise was also an inspiration.

The Davidson Prize is part of the London Festival of Architecure and was set up in memory of architect and Hayes Davidson founder Alan Davidson, who died of motor neurone disease in 2018.