Grand Designs: Rustic tin barn and ecological Mews in London join shortlist for House of the Year


A rustic tin barn ambitiously converted into a curvilinear zinc-clad house with a ‘Meccano’ show tower, a traditional London property hollowed out into a highly sophisticated eco-friendly home has been shortlisted to win the House of the Year competition.

These two fairytale transformations were selected from five entries in the 2022 Grand Designs House of the Year show that took place last night.

Each week, in the month-long series on Channel 4, architectural guru Kevin McCloud guides viewers through five projects to be shortlisted, as judged by the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) in December.

In the second episode, the projects are categorized as “incredible transformations of existing buildings” where every form of abandoned or outdated structure is transformed into a contemporary home suitable for 21st century living.

McCloud is joined by design expert and author Michelle Ogunden, architect Damion Burroughs, and conservation architect Natasha Hook to introduce participants from the four categories. In addition to the amazing transformations, there are also challenging builds, groundbreaking ideas, and exceptional craftsmanship.

Here are the two finalists selected last night and the projects they were up against.

Final: Dutch Barn

By Sandy Rendell Architects

Pauline grew up on a working farm in West Sussex, playing to the high rafters of a hay barn. With partner Paul, she runs the family business – eight acres of landscaped gardens open to the public – from the site and has converted a modest hay barn into their new home.

The sophisticated two-story structure is now dressed in black, water-resistant zinc with a soft (though well insulated) hipped roof. The sides are punctuated by large windows.

Dutch Barn (West Sussex) by Sandy Rendel Architects Ltd

/ Richard Chivers

A towering architectural achievement is the rusty grain silo that, though it looks like another piece salvaged from the yard, is a new red-steel slotted tower for tourists to survey the gardens. Inside is a spiral staircase and is connected by a walkway to the upper deck of their new home.

The flipped house with bedrooms on the ground floor is “grandiose yet intimate,” says McCloud’s voiceover, and “never forgets its origins.” The sleek stainless steel kitchen has a rustic woven oak floor and there are red painted metal trusses supporting the ceiling.

It has been slightly over thought [“artfully” according to McCloud] Not designed.

Mews House Deep Retrofit (London) by Prewett Bizley Architects

/ Andrew Meredith

Finalist: Mews House Deep Retrofit

By Prewett Bizley Architects

Mews Houses, part of the vernacular architectural dwellings of central London, were stables and coach sheds converted into homes by the Victorians. Although they tend to be outsiders, they are often windy and far from meeting modern standards for energy efficiency.

According to Eve, the owner of this particular house, she could feel the wind blowing through her hair when she was standing by the window.

This family home (for Eva, her husband James, and their two young children) is completely hollowed out. “There was one point when it had no roof and now it has floors, just four walls,” she says.

By using an air dehumidifier, porous insulated plaster, and thin profile glass windows where the two panels are separated by a vacuum (as opposed to the more common double or triple glazed windows) combined with an air source heat pump, the energy consumption of the property was reduced by 82 per cent.

Burrows advertises that it marries technology and craftsmanship with an angular spiral staircase made of 900 slats of oak in the center of the property beneath a light well that allows natural light to flood into the home.

Manuscripts Factory

By Will Gamble Architects

Charlie and Jane have bought a coveted Georgian cottage in a Northamptonshire village. Although, prior to its purchase, the rubble in the back garden had deterred many faint-hearted buyers.

Their secret weapon was their son, the architect Will, and together they sewed a modern extension into the crumbling walls of what remains of the ivy-covered, Grade II listed 16th-century mill. “It felt like ivy hanging over the structure,” says Charlie. Now the manuscript factory part of the house is a mixture of theatrical Gothic and modern construction with an extension in the remains of the old building.

Parchment work by Will Gamble Architects

/ Johan Dillen

The lightweight glass boxes are sealed on top with Corten steel tape and reconfigure the original construction to ensure the stability of the stone walls.

The new modern kitchen is located under the original wonky wood ceiling in this home. The RIBA judges paid tribute to the elegant way old and new introduced each other.

Cow shed

by Croshaw Architects

McCloud describes this farm building as the ultimate work-from-home office.

A cowshed that had been unloved for 50 years and was home to a tractor, has been converted by owner Natalie into a “classic and upscale” library.

The simple dwelling contains a double-height library, vaulted and curved at its centre, straddled by an open corridor running down the middle with tables and workspace and flanked by books. The library is also a bedroom surrounded by a kitchen, study, bathroom and lobby.

Cowshed (Dorset) by Crawshaw Architects LLP

/ Ingrid Rasmussen

To achieve the new ceiling heights, while leaving the sections open and glazed for the light to stream through, the floor was drilled by hand which took two months.

Everything in the building is made as if it had been chiseled and saw when the farmhouse was originally built with raw bookshelves inspired by straw shelves.

“The sign of a civilized home is a library,” McCloud says, and hence Natalie now sits hard at keeping another tradition alive—letter-writing.


By Technology Architecture & Designs

Every summer for two weeks, Shauna, her parents and two brothers visited a small flat on the Isle of Bute on the west coast of Scotland.

The five were squeezing into the upstairs apartment, which had a pull-out bed in the kitchen and an outdoor toilet. “We had the best time,” she says.

Six years ago she inherited the apartment and the flat underneath it was put up for sale and she set to work bringing her past into her future.

The Den (Scotland) by Technique Architecture and Design in collaboration with Stallan-Brand

/ double imaging

After losing her son, Dylan, who tragically committed suicide at the age of 18, it’s more important than ever to preserve the memory of the time they spent together in the apartment, too.

The two apartments have been vertically batted to create a double height space while maintaining original sandstone walls and features.

The windows are secured with light aluminum frames and at the center of the house clever birch joinery – like a piece of furniture – makes up the cupboards, stairs, storage on the landing and conceals the bathroom. House services are contained within the wood.

This gives the visitor time to admire the exposed Victorian walls which have been left bare.

The 150-year-old sandstone was wet and crumbly, so the property was wrapped in a zinc cube to allow it to dry from the inside out, preserving it for those living inside.

Shauna says, “This is a home for the next generation but it feels like it is [Dylan] still here. Emotional Right calls it “the black box of gimmicks, the upside-down and inside-out house, and a place to heal.” “

To watch the full episode, stream Grand Designs House of the Year 2022 on Channel 4.

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