Awards for London homes as UK scoops RIBA prizes

From a timber "Love Shack" in Cumbria, set in a forest glade, to the bold curves of the Olympic Velodrome by Hopkins architects in the Olympic Park - this is a great year for British architecture
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Love Shack in Cumbria
© Karen Guthrie
The "Love Shack" is set romantically in a forest glade in Cumbria
Last week the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gave 89 out of 97 awards for European architectural excellence to buildings in the UK. It is from these winners that the prestigious Stirling Prize will be awarded in October.

'Seventeen of the winners are private houses, of which four are in London'

From a timber ‘Love Shack’ in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, its boxy, decked form perched romantically in a protected forest glade, to the ravishing Olympic Velodrome by Hopkins architects flaunting bold curves for all to see in the Olympic Park - and Homes & Property’s tip for the Stirling - it is a great year for British Architecture.

But top of the list are homes. Seventeen of the winners are private houses, of which four are in London. In straightened times, relatively small projects like this aren’t surprising, but it is great news for anyone looking for ideas. The four houses will compete, later on in the year, for the Manser Medal.

Most exciting are two small family houses, each of around 800sq foot (the size of a two-bedroom maisonette), that demonstrate the true trend and strength of architecture emerging at the moment. Two architects acting as their own clients have designed pared-down, spare, homes on difficult, tight Londonplots and even tighter budgets – which dictate the most intense designs solutions.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat and Goldhill, in NW1, uses black brick, concrete and pale timber, and even manages to squeeze in a tiny courtyard.

The Strange House (left), by Hugh Strange, uses a pre-existing slab, and off-site construction of a basically timber and glass lightweight house. Dashing timber vertical louvers, of Nicaraguan hurricane-felled timber, create tremendous charm and character along a long wall of the living area, where every ounce of space has been considered.

Also included is a total revamp of a Brutalist house in Hampstead, and a glass-walled extension to a Georgian terrace in Hoxton, which opens up and changes the character of the two lower floors, fast-forwarding them into the 21st century.

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