case: riba HOUSE OF THE YEAR 2017

 RIBA House 2017

(Above: A contemporary English country house is the RIBA House of the Year 2017. Image: RIBA)

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has named Caring Wood by James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell as its RIBA House of the Year 2017. The award is presented annually to the best new house or house extension designed by an architect in the UK.

Inspired by the traditional oast houses of Kent, the agricultural buildings for kilning hops, Caring Wood revives local building crafts and traditions including locally sourced handmade peg clay tiles, locally quarried ragstone and coppiced chestnut cladding. The house comprises four towers, with interlinking roofs.

The house has been built for multiple generations of a growing family and allows the owner’s daughters, their husbands and their children to reside under one roof both together and apart.

The judges praised the "sublime craftsmanship" and "spatial grandeur" of the development, and said it also offered a new prototype of how several generations might live together in future.

RIBA House 2017 interior

James Macdonald-Wright, Macdonald Wright Architects, said: Sustainability in architectural practice is expected, but I believe regionalism, craft and the interpretation of the vernacular are also important. I’m delighted that, in Caring Wood, they are being recognized. This project proves that, by joining together, small practices can do big things.

Niall Maxwell, Rural Office said: Collaboration with many talented people enabled us to realise the design for this contemporary country house. This demonstrates what small practices are capable of when given the chance by enlightened clients."

The full shortlist for the RIBA House of the Year 2017 was:


  • Caring Wood by James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell
  • Shawm House by MawsonKerr Architects
  • Ness Point by Tonkin Liu    
  • 6 Wood Lane by Birds Portchmouth Russum
  • The Quest by Strom Architects    
  • Newhouse of Auchengree by Ann Nisbet Studio
  • Hidden House by Coffey Architects

The RIBA House of the Year 2017 is sponsored by Paint & Paper Library.


More on the RIBA website

Published: Nov 30, 2017.