Off-grid Scottish hideaway named UK’s best new house

A West Highlands home designed by HaysomWardMiller Architects has been named House of the Year 2018 by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Lochside House was revealed as the winner in the final episode of a special Channel 4 series Grand Designs: House of the Year, broadcast on November 28.

Described as a modest, sustainable home which sits in a magical location on the edge of a Scottish lake, Lochside House is formed of three finely-crafted buildings, huddled together and clad in burnt Scottish larch, protected by a traditional drystone wall. With roofs that echo the distant mountains, the house is perfectly integrated into the wild and rugged landscape.

A bespoke design for the owner – a ceramic artist – the house is completely off-grid: all energy comes from the sun and water is pulled up from a borehole. Inside, the rooms are comfortably sized with a pared-back aesthetic. Walls are lined in white oiled timber, surfaces are skimmed with a rough textured plaster and large windows at varying heights capture the stunning views.

The prestigious annual accolade is given by RIBA to the UK’s best new architect-designed house.

RIBA president, Ben Derbyshire, said: “Lochside House is truly breathtaking. By containing its scale, sensitively positioning the crop of buildings on a promontory around established trees, and making use of local materials, HaysomWardMiller have created a home which perfectly responds to its exposed, unique location. With a highly sustainable, off-grid approach to energy and water, it leaves the surrounding environment as undisturbed as possible. Every detail has been fine-tuned to create an exceptional home and studio that meets the needs and wishes of its artist owner. Lochside House is the perfect addition to this dream landscape.”

Lochside House’s architect, Tom Miller of HaysomWardMiller, said: “To build a good, energy-efficient house here wasn’t straightforward. It was only possible because we had a client with the uncompromising determination and vision to keep pushing us to achieve our best, and a contractor’s team for whom we have enormous respect - they seemed to thrive on the unique challenges posed by building on such an exposed and inaccessible site. The fact that it was such a pleasure to work on is testament to the dedication of everyone who contributed. Our thanks go to the whole team.”

Architect Takero Shimazaki, chair of the 2018 RIBA House of the Year jury, said: “We chose Lochside House because of its extraordinary client-architect relationship, which resulted in an exceptional house that has a rich conversation with the natural environment.

“It is astonishing that the remoteness and challenging weather did not prevent the client’s vision being achieved. The architect’s off-grid solution seems almost effortless.

“Inside, the spaces merge with the artist owner’s art collection, and there is an overwhelming sense of comfort, warmth and homeliness.

“Lochside House is a well-designed home that is an example of humble, grounded, contextual yet powerful architecture that people can aspire to and be inspired by.”

Grand Designs: House of the Year presenter, Kevin McCloud, added: “This building has been tailored to its site. It’s been stitched and woven…seamed in to the tapestry of this place and it is so much the better for it. It’s the kind of architecture that we can all easily love, the kind of architecture we can all easily learn from; and it’s a way of building that we, in Britain, are getting really very good at.”

Photography courtesy of HaysomWardMillar / Richard Fraser

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