Sustainable Scottish home and Devon stone barn conversion join fray for 2021 RIBA domestic architecture award

A sustainably built timber home in Sutherland and the conversion of an early 19th-century stone barn in Devon are the latest projects to be added to the shortlist for RIBA House of the Year 2021.

Mary Arnold-Forster Architects’ House in Assynt is a 100sq m timber home with spectacular views of the west coast of Scotland.

RIBA’s award jury said arriving at the property was “an unforgettable experience” with a sense of anticipation built up by the “tortuous nature of the road” to the house and and the seemingly inaccessible location of the site.

“Setting aside the innovative off-site fabrication, the transportation and construction challenges and the harsh exposure of the site, this building is an exquisite study in volumetric space and light which has produced a house which is exactly tailored to the client’s brief and is a joy to experience,” they said.

“House in Assynt is an exemplary model of sustainable and considered architecture which makes as minimal an impact on its environment as is possible and yet which leaves a lasting legacy for its occupants to enjoy.”

Typw Studio’s Outfarm was also lavished with praise by jurors, who said the project was “approaching work-of-art status” within the typology of barn conversions.

“This unique and rediscovered barn was no ordinary barn, and this is clear to see in the quality of its masonry, its scale, its proportion and its immediate landscape setting, complete with its subtle but powerfully anchoring crescent-shaped enclosure,” they said.

“It was a place for prize cattle, and now through its faultless execution [this project] has transformed this previously abandoned building into something worthy of being a scheduled monument.

“It was found by chance, as a ruin on a plot of land, with no permission for re-use. Since then, it has truly been rescued and should be recognised as a building of high architectural and historical significance.”

Type Studio’s additions to the original structure include structural steel shoes that stabilise the original half-rounded columns and a new roof that was specifically engineered to allow for an additional mezzanine if and when necessary.

Jurors said all of the practice’s contemporary additions had brought continuity to the barn’s past and set up “a wonderful future” of further interpretation and use.

House in Assynt and Outfarm join projects by Tonkin Liu, Alison Brooks, Sandy Rendel and Tigg & Coll on the House of the Year shortlist.

A final candidate for the 2021 award will be revealed on December 8 on the Channel 4 programme Grand Designs: House of the Year, shortly before the winner is announced.