RIBA House of the Year 2017
Published: 5th December 2017
This year’s RIBA House of the Year is a ‘brave new prototype for multi-generational living‘.
Caring Wood is a re-imagined traditional English country house, designed by British architects James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell. The house is divided into four interconnected blocks built from traditional materials which echo the neighbouring oast houses, and provides accommodation for four family units; the owners and their daughters along with their husbands and children.
“This ambitious house explores new architectural methods, materials and crafts and allows us to question the future of housing and the concept of multi-generational living,” said RIBA president Ben Derbyshire. “I’ve no doubt many of the ideas displayed at Caring Wood will influence UK housing for many years to come.”
According to RIBA House of the Year 2017 jury chair, Deborah Saunt “Beyond the impression of sublime craftsmanship and spatial grandeur this house offers, Caring Wood leads us to fundamentally question how we might live together in the future.
“At a time when we are increasingly atomised, individually preoccupied and lost in personalised digital worlds, designing homes where families come together – in their many permutations – is an increasingly important aim. Whilst this might seem to be a particular brief for one extended family, it is one taking huge risks in asking how we collectively might live inter-generationally as social structures evolve.
“Here we find a family enjoying each other’s time and company, but also enabling timeless layers of support to emerge between generations. Grandparents and grandchildren exchanging experiences and enlivening each other’s sense of self, parents finding a place to catch up alone as children play. Siblings together with cousins, building the foundation for mutual support for years to come, the network that builds a strong society of mutual respect.
“This is a brave project offering a new prototype. In deploying homes that cater for extended families across urban, suburban and rural sites, this may offer solutions not only to the country’s housing crisis – where families might live together longer- but also by providing care solutions for young and old alike, freeing people from punishing costs throughout their lifetimes.
“This intimate house delights in the way it beautifully manipulates space and avoids grandiosity. Unobtrusive within its landscape, it builds on the pattern of settlement centuries old. This is a house for all ages.”