Grand Designs awards

Wacky, bold and even useful design won awards at Grand Designs
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Wacky and exciting ideas grabbed the attention of judges at this year’s Grand Designs awards, which was divided into housing and innovated product categories.

'The London entries were strong and bold, particularly in the eco field'

Sliding House (right), by the experimental firm dRMM, was full of surprises.

The house, built from glass and birch, and looking rather like a giant greenhouse to start with, sits in front of a 20-ton timber “skin” that can be rolled over it using railway tracks, transforming it into a well-insulated barn-like building with a completely different mood inside.

London entries were strong and bold, particularly in the “eco” field. The winner in this category was the Shoreditch Prototype house by Cox Bulleid architects. This “town house” has a living green skin that recycles CO2.

Conversions were also strong, reinforcing the theme of improving not moving, while shoehorning houses into small spaces worked well for Vicco’s Tower by 51% Studios or the bold boxy Camden extension by Crawford Partnership.

In the development category, the pretty, stripey Twenty Bishop’s Square by Matthew Lloyd manages to sit next to an ancient church in the middle of Spitalfields and not look odd.

Torch Light by Sylvain Willenz
Homes & Property Product of the Year: Torch Light by Sylvain Willenz
In design, smallish items worked best, some of them striking objects of desire, such as the Cobra-like shower Ondus, by Grohe. A return to colour and comfort made Margo Selby justified winner of the Surfaces category with a rich, sensual rug woven from banana fibre and wool.

Vegetal chairs by the Bouroullec brothers with a stackable branchy design were striking and useful. The most handy - and smallest - item, liked by all the judges, was a moisture vent for walls, the DrillVent: a great help to buildings at only £1.27 each.

Homes & Property gave its Product of the Year award to Torch Light by Sylvain Willenz for Established & Sons.

These sleek, versatile lights, based on the shape of an old-fashioned torch and made in different sizes, can be used singly or hung in groups of 10 or 20, like a subtle chandelier. The judges all liked their gently retro look, utility and varied use.

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