Grand Designs - House of the Year 2016:the five London homes in the running for top Riba prize

A quarter of the residential buildings in the running for the 'Oscars' of British architecture are in the capital. The winner will be revealed on the final episode of Channel 4's Grand Designs: House of the Year, this Thursday...

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Of the 20 houses in Britain shortlisted for the prestigious Riba accolade, a quarter are in London.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, but perhaps good design is the father. Five of the homes which grace this year's Royal Institute of British Architects 'House of the Year' longlist are London-based and their unusual beauty is dictated by a slew of restrictions peculiar to the capital.

Limited space, conservation orders and even, in one case, an almost complete absence of natural light, were the catalysts for the creation of a handful of truly extraordinary properties.

Among them is a house built on a tricky industrial site, two adaptations of existing terraced or mews properties, a house that had to be half-buried so it was hidden from the neighbours and a small but glorious studio-style build which carries the garden on its rafters.

London houses up for Riba 2016

House of Trace

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(Tim Croker)

This South London home is not a new build, but a “surprising and delightful” rethink of an existing terrace house extension which had become structurally unsound. The design, by Tsuruta Architects, makes a feature of the old and new elements of the house, including a central void which marks the delineation between the two parts, creating unusual interlocking shapes and functions of the rooms.

Tin House

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(Charles Hosea)

This striking piece of burnt orange architecture was designed by Henning Stummel for himself and his family on an unpromising urban site. The tin-clad buildings are all linked and surround a tranquil courtyard that provides privacy from surrounding houses. There is even a tranquil pool in the middle and judges called it an "unexpected back-land jewel".

Garden House

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(Killian O'Sullivan)

Set in an 85 square metre site behind Victorian housing in Hackney’s de Beauvoir Conservation area, it is a captivating example of what can be done in a small, urban space. Architects Hayhurst and Co designed the home and studio to include a garden on its roof made from stainless steel trays within which 800 sedums and heathers bloom.

Covert House

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(Christoffer Rudquist)

This two-storey house of two interlocked white cubes in Clapham is on backland plot of land - an area which is built on or otherwise developed  under restrictive Conservation Area planning conditions - so architect couple Deborah Saunt and David Hills of DSDHA had to 'bury' half the house. This means it looks like a low-rise home and reduces overlooking from neighbouring gardens.

Modern Mews

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(Timothy Soar)

This period mews property only has windows at the front making it very dark with no natural light reaching the master bedroom and en suite on the lower floor. The challenge of this single aspect has been elegantly overcome with the installation of a glazed roof, glass landings and an entirely glazed ground floor, allowing sunshine to penetrate all corners.

The winner will be revealed on Thursday 15 December after the best of the longlist have been featured in the Channel 4 series Grand Designs: House of the Year presented by Kevin McCloud. 

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