Caring Wood country house in Kent has won the House of the Year title from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), which is awarded to the best new house or extension in the UK.
Caring Wood is a new model for multi-generational living, housing three generations of a single family. Arranged like a pinwheel around a central courtyard, the 4 interconnected blocks are designed for 4 units of the family: the owners as well as their daughters’ families. In response to an increasingly individualistic and digital world, Deborah Saunt, director of London studio DSDHA, highlights the importance of “designing homes where families come together – in their many permutations” and observes that “Caring Wood leads us to fundamentally question how we might live together in the future.”
Drawing inspiration from Kent’s iconic hop drying towers, the exterior is especially eye-catching. Russet-coloured, angular roofs covered in 150,000 handmade clay peg tiles from Sussex mounted on a cross-laminated timber structure help give the building its unique shape. Its walls are covered in locally sourced rag-stone.
The 1,400-square-metre home, praised by judges for its balance between intimacy and grandeur, was built on a 34-hectare plot of land, which also includes a nearby small cottage with an exterior matching the main house and a black-stained timber barn.
The innovative building was designed by James Macdonald Wright of Macdonald Wright Architects and Niall Maxwell of Rural Office for Architecture. They explain that the brief had two aims: “to embody the spirit of the English country house in a design that would embrace its context and landscape and to provide a sustainable home, both in the sense of carbon neutrality and in terms of a flexible design that can accommodate an entire family and evolve with them.”
Along with this twofold brief, the building is one possible solution to the UK’s housing crisis, allowing families to easily share the responsibility of childcare and to stay together longer.
To see more of this innovative, hop-kiln-inspired home, click here.