6a’s Coastal House joins the shortlist for 2018 RIBA House of the Year

6a’s Coastal House joins the shortlist for 2018 RIBA House of the Year

The search for Britain’s best house is not limited to new-build structures; in fact, given the country’s rich historical fabric, a huge proportion of the UK’s built environment involves the reworking of existing structures, from sensitive restorations to complete and bold reimaginings of older buildings. The Coastal House by London-based 6a architects, which joins the RIBA House of the Year shortlist, belongs to the former category. 

Set among the leafy countryside of South Devon, by a picturesque coastal path, the project involved the redesign of an early 20th-century home. Deciding upon saving the existing building and adding elements where needed – from an external wrap of insulation, to architectural gestures and surfaces that work with and enhance the original structure – the architects have composed an interior that artfully blurs old and new. 6a’s signature style of light touches and refined restrain is applied throughout, reminding of the studio’s other works, such as the recent South London Gallery annex design. 

The house has already won a RIBA South West Conservation Award. Photography: Johan Dehlin

While the exterior reveals little, the interior has been entirely gutted and reimagined. New openings have been cut out of the volume and an atrium now centres the design. Within this atrium sits a winding timber staircase that spans the building’s three storeys. Lit from above this space acts as the heart of the circulation, opening up into internal balconies that look down to the living areas below and bedrooms above.

The curated selection of materials includes a maple handrail, oak rake balustrades, and poured in-situ concrete to create a pleasingly domestic, yet textured and well articulated environment. Large, strategically placed windows connect this tactile interior to the outdoors, framing views of the Dan Pearson designed gardens outside, and longer vistas of the nature beyond, bringing this impressive residential reinvention in direct dialogue with its surroundings. §

The Royal Institute of British Architects 2018 ‘RIBA House Of The Year’ award will be announced on 28 November 2018

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