The results are in for the RIBA Manser Medal 2011, with the top prize going to Duggan Morris Architects for their reconstruction of a 1960s house in north London. The architects who featured in our 2008 Architects Directory beat five other forward-thinking residential designs with their restoration of a forgotten Brutalist classic. The 1968 house was saved from oblivion by DMA, who opened up the garden façade to the interior, creating a sympathetic contrast between the original concrete walls and subtle but evocative new planting. A new roof garden was also part of the brief, which involved knocking out walls, inserting a new steel structure and the careful restoration of the best bits of the original design.
The other five projects up for the £10,000 award were MVRDV's Balancing Barn in Suffolk, designed in conjunction with Mole Architects for architectural retreat specialists Living Architecture and Featherstone Young's epic Welsh riverside retreat, Ty Hedfan in Brecon (which is also available to rent). Completing the six domestic designs on the shortlist were Eldridge Smerin's glassy new house in Surrey, John Pardey's sleek timber clad New Forest House and Mission Hall in West Sussex by Adam Richards Architects.
The overall emphasis was on contemporary designs that made more than a passing nod to their surroundings, avoiding the clichés of modern architecture in favour of a more low-key, but still high-end, approach to living spaces and the relationship between house and landscape.