In the United Kingdom, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA for short) is considered a really prestigious organisation. In fact, if an architecture practice isn’t accredited by this body then literally it’s not worth it salt. Obviously, there are exceptions but I just wanted to illustrate the importance of a global membership with this institute. Every year the RIBA has a coveted national award for a residential home displaying an exceptional degree of merit. The shortlist has now been devised into a TV show hosted by the charismatic Kevin McCloud. It would be an understatement to say that the selections were outstanding. However, there can only be one winner and in 2017 the prize was award to Caring Wood.

Where design is concerned there will always be divided opinions because taste is subjective. Many of the shortlisted homes featured on the ‘RIBA House of the Year Awards’ (TV show) are phenomenal and virtually flawless. However, the judging panel felt that Caring Wood offered something more than the other contenders. Certainly, it was the largest residence included on the shortlist and the scale is in line with many Australian properties. Looking beyond the grandeur of the home is a snapshot of how we live in the future. With land at a premium, families will probably have to combine financial resources and live together.

Caring wood is located in the picturesque region of Kent and is a reinterpretation of the classic country house. Set in 84-acres the dwelling comprises a central core and four imposing Oast Houses. The project is a collaboration between owner-occupier Niall Maxwell and James Macdonald Wright (Macdonald Wright Architects). What they have created is a harmonious home for three generations of the same family. This template ultimately netted Caring Wood the coveted RIBA National Award 2017 and RIBA House of the Year 2017.

In contrast to a lot of contemporary residential properties Caring Wood is devoid of modern industrial materials like concrete and exposed steel. Even though I love this aesthetic it would have been completely inappropriate for Caring Wood and its environment. For that reason, the architects sourced locally crafted handmade peg clay tiles, locally quarried ragstone and coppiced chestnut cladding. In my opinion, this is a touch of genius because it’s seemingly embedded into its beautiful surroundings. This theme is also replicated internally by using wood, quarry tiles, and a neutral palette.

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