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RIBA announces shortlist for the Manser Medal 2008
18 September 2008


The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) today announces the shortlist for the Manser Medal|, sponsored by The Rooflight Company. 

The award is given for the best one-off house or major extension designed by an architect in the UK.  

Two pioneering housing schemes are both competing for this year's Manser Medal, alongside two diverse family homes and a tranquil garden apartment in a protected property.

The shortlist for the Manser Medal 2008 is: 

  • Private house in Belfast by Twenty Two Over Seven
  • Halligan House by Simon Conder Associates
  • Accordia byFeilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Maccreanor Lavington and Alison Brooks Architects
  • Oxley Park by Roger by Stirk Harbour & Partners
  • Garden Apartment by Gianni Botsford Architects

The shortlist was drawn from the RIBA Award-winning buildings which were announced earlier this year in May. The Manser Medal winner will be announced and presented alongside five other special awards, at the RIBA Stirling Prize Dinner on Saturday 11 October in Liverpool. 

The medal is judged by a panel including Michael Manser CBE, former President of the RIBA; Stephen Marshall, Stephen Marsall Architects; Val King, The Rooflight Company and Tony Chapman, RIBA Head of Awards.


Previous winners include The Salt House by Alison Brooks Architects (2007), Holly Barn by Knox Bhavan Architects (2006) and Stealth House by Robert Dye Associates (2005).


    Full building citations are below:

Garden Apartment, Kensington, London

This Garden Apartment was created by combining the top two floors of a wide-fronted Victorian villa in Notting Hill, and adding a roof-level volume within the familiar (and planner-friendly) form of a mansard.  Carved out of the volume of the building, at its centre, is a deep slot, creating a vertical outside space, around which the living spaces weave. This is topped with a fully retractable skylight, so that the weather can be permitted to come in, or kept out; in the summer it constantly left open. It took clever engineering to allow this atrium to be as transparent and light as it is.  This is secret gem, entirely unseen from without, is a tribute to the architect's imagination, ingenuity and persistence.

 

Accordia, Cambridge

This is high density housing at its very best.  Beautifully thought-through houses are linked by a series of public, semi-public and private but visible open spaces, making the whole development a joy to walk through.  Houses and flats have good-sized, well-proportioned rooms with views out ranging from the urban views to rural pasture.  This development proves that good modern housing sells, that a committed local authority can have a very positive influence on the design, that a masterplan with a range of architects can be successful and that the very best architecture does not need to rely on gimmicks. This will be a project that will be much referred to and used a future case study.

 

Private House, Belfast

The first impression of the building on arrival is restrained and small scale and in reality almost a simple child-like representation of a house gable punctured by two simple deep set windows in a pristine white rendered wall.   This simplicity and restraint is part of the building's appeal.  The limited palette of materials chosen by the architect leads to a clean and fresh appearance. 

As you move from the front door through the internal spaces there is a pleasing progression from public to private spaces that is handled simply yet effectively.  The house was designed to facilitate the ease of movement inside and outside the house for a member of the family confined to a wheelchair. 

 

Halligan House, St Albans

This is a great example of an architect (a previous winner of the Stephen Lawrence prize with his black rubber house at Dungeness) taking a client brief, a tight site and an even tighter budget and creating an architecturally rich and uplifting house. Single storeyed, timer framed and built round a series of courtyards and outdoor spaces , the basic pallet of materials is used with great care so that the house feels anything but cheap.  A delightful house on a difficult site; the clients' first decision – the choice of architect – was the right one.  They were in good company: Jacques Herzog recently chose Simon Conder as the only British architect to work with his practice on a major housing scheme in China. 

 

Oxley Park, Milton Keynes

The scheme is the fruit of John Prescott's initiative to promote off-side construction of housing.  English Partnerships held competitions for the design and construction of prefabricated houses meeting demanding environmental standards. Full height insulated wall panels were erected first, followed by floors and roofs.   The pods on the roofs contain solar heaters and heat exchangers for the background ventilation system.

The project represents a thorough-going attempt at innovation within the all-too risk-averse conventional housebuilders' market.  It achieves well- designed and spacious-seeming housing with excellent daylight.  It points to one way forward in achieving high environmental standards in quality housebuilding.  The scheme is therefore well deserving of an award for its through-going spirit of innovation and the élan of its design.

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