by Mrinmayee BhootSep 14, 2023
AR House awards, now in their tenth year, have been diverse and wide-ranging, often branching beyond the traditional remit of the dwelling. The awards recognise originality and excellence in the design of dwellings of all types, budgets and locations.
This year, General Design Co. was announced as the winner for transforming an old house in Kamitomii (Kurashiki, Japan), paring back an assemblage of additions built over generation to restore it to its original dimensions and create a space defined by openness and simplicity. In contrast to the general trend in Japan to demolish old houses and build afresh, the original roof was carefully preserved, a new structure of slender timber columns constructed beneath.
The winning house design was chosen by a jury of London-based Japanese architect Takeshi Hayatsu, co-founder of Norwegian practice Manthey Kula, Beate Hølmebakk, and British architect Stephen Taylor. Over 200 entries were received from around the globe and considered by the judges, who were looking for ingenious and pioneering houses that seek to push the type forward.
House in Kamitomii by General Design Co.
Describing the winning project, Hayatsu, the founder of Hayatsu Architects, said, “The renovation of the house in Kamitomii addresses a pressing housing market issue in Japan, where the value of houses reduces as they get older, and quietly suggests a different form of living, which allows for co-existence with history and surrounding context.”
Hølmebakk applauded the project’s “responsible attitude and able approach towards history, memory, conservation, community and sustainability, and Taylor commented, ”The house in Kamitomii is a very beautiful construction whose new elements entangle themselves intelligently and poetically with the old.”
Highly Commended Projects
1. Hamra studio residence in Sweden by Collectif Encore
It is a bold concrete house in the Gotland landscape which blurs the boundary between inside and out. Commenting on the same, juror Takeshi Hayatsu said, “The project in Hamra in Sweden offers delightful moments to its inhabitants, creating an enigmatic form with a playful attitude towards details.” The other judge Beate Hølmebakk added, “The project promotes a collaborative process and a humble attitude to the role of the architect.”
2. 81 Hollybrook Grove in Dublin, Ireland, by David Leech Architects
It is a suburban house with a twist, open to the garden on the ground floor with an enclosed nest of bedrooms above. Stephen Taylor mentioned the project as, “Hollybrook Grove is modest, made of simple materials, belying the wealth of ideas that combine to create a very good work of architecture.” Hølmebakk added, “Hollybrook Grove is an undogmatic and eclectic approach to an everyday challenge, revealing architectural potential in pragmatic tasks.”
1. Cloister House in Perth, Australia by MORQ
An enclosed house in a suburb of Perth with a lush courtyard at its heart. Appreciating it, Hølmebakk said, “The Cloister House displays the result of a close collaboration between client and architect, offering plenty of space and material qualities, which successfully fulfills the client’s wishes.”
2. Song House in Shanghai, China by AZL Architects
A house for three generations in the shifting fringes of Shanghai. Describing the project, Taylor was quoted saying, “The plan of the Song House offers an interesting typology for multi-occupancy living, suggesting possibilities for collective habitation. The arrangement of spaces is loose yet specific and they come together to present an intriguing composition within the neighbourhood.”
3. Strip House in Aichi, Japan by Kochi Architect’s Studio
A house of interlocking planes rather than traditional walls. Hayatsu explained the project saying, “I love the playful nature of this house. The simple spatial arrangement logic led to a super complex interior. The exterior treatment and positioning of windows is very skilful, and the slight offset of the geometry creates functional corners and useful surfaces.”
Past winners of the AR House awards include David Chipperfield Architects, John Lin, and Matharoo Associates, placing the house as a key rite of passage for architects that offers genuine potential for innovation and the opportunity to ferment and crystallise new ideas.
Other projects that were a part of the 2019 shortlist are:
- 1. Casa Volta in Puerto Escondido, Mexico by Ambrosi Etchegaray
- 2. Casa St Cugat in St Cugat del Vallès, Spain by Camps Felip Arquitecturia
- 3. Hawthorn House in Melbourne, Australia by Edition Office
- 4. House in a Garden in London, UK by Gianni Botsford Architects
- 5. Photographer’s House in London, UK by Hugh Strange Architects
- 6. The Longhouse in Daylesford, Australia by Partners Hill
- 7. Cut in Koganecho, Yokohama, Japan by Persimmon Hills Architects
- 8. Loop Terrace in Kobe, Japan by Tomohiro Hata Architect and Associates
- 9. Casa de Piedra in Cáceres, Spain by Tuñón Arquitectos