South London ’skinny house’ and Surrey cottage remodelling make final round of RIBA award

A two-storey home slotted into a disused alley in south London and a 1930s Surrey cottage remodelled to become a fully accessible open-plan family home are the latest projects to make the final round of RIBA’s House of the Year award.


Sandy Rendel Architects’ appropriately named Slot House delivers a 64sq m home on a 2.8m wide site in Peckham that used to be an alleyway. The two-storey, one-bedroom building uses a lightweight steel structure that is supported on a piled slab to avoid loading the neighbouring structures.


RIBA’s House of the Year jury said Rendel’s structure showed how the smallest infill sites could provide “credible habitable spaces” with enough care and attention to detail.


“Slot House demonstrates how with a little more time spent coordinating structure, waste and supply pipes, staircases and cabinetry, the tightest of sites can be inhabited without several more wall, floor and ceiling linings needed to hide the often uncoordinated [utilities],” they said.


Tigg & Coll’s House for Theo and Oskar has expanded a small family cottage into a 240sq m home to cater for the current and future needs of two children who suffer from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.


The architects created an extension that wraps around the side of the cottage to form a new front entrance while maintaining the existing horizontal eaves line and the suggestion of a pitched roof. The house’s rear façade is dominated by the timber diagrid roof form, which cantilevers over sliding glazed walls that provide the children’s bedrooms with unincumbered access to a covered terrace.


Award jurors said that inside the visual connection between the rough, exposed timbers of the cottage’s original ceilings and those of the new diagrid roof was “very successful and not jarring”.


They added that the project was witness to the client’s commitment to their children’s quality of life; the architect’s commitment to delivering something functional but special in the face a constantly evolving procurement process; and the commitment of contractors and suppliers who offered time, advice and materials within a very tight budget.


House for Theo and Oskar and Slot House join Alison Brooks Architects’ House on the Hill in Gloucestershire and Tonkin Liu Architects’ Water Tower in Norfolk on the House of the Year 2021 shortlist.


Three further shortlisted candidates, drawn from the 20-project longlist announced last month, will be revealed in the Channel 4 programme Grand Designs: House of the Year between now and the winner being announced on 8 December.


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.