Green House: RIBA House of the Year 2023

Green House in Tottenham, designed by Hayhurst & Co., has been awarded the prestigious RIBA House of the Year for 2023.This unique family home IN Tottenham reimagines the traditional terraced house on a confined urban plot, replacing an existing structure. 

Clad in polycarbonate panels and surrounded by dense planting, the discreet exterior conceals a compact, light-filled interior. Inspired by the Riad concept, the house is described by the RIBA jury as a ‘domestic greenhouse’ and an ‘extraordinary ordinary house,’ emphasising its distinct approach to one-off house design in the UK.

Located in a conservation area in Tottenham, the double-aspect views to the gardens and a roof terrace further emphasise the property’s interrelation to its former, surrounding greenery. The atrium’s rooflights bring daylight into the heart of the home – casting shadows on the walls and changing with each season.

Hayhurst & Co. delivered the vision of owners Tom and Amandine who wanted to create a low-cost, functional five-bedroom home for their growing family, that maximised living space, gave a sense of airiness and access to nature.

Green House embraces a ‘biophilic design’ approach – increasing connections to the natural environment – and challenges expectations of similar urban typologies.“On the ground floor, the kitchen, dining and living areas flow into one other with an occasional step in level, and can be subdivided by floor-to-ceiling sweeping curtains – an ‘ultra-practical’ arrangement that makes the spaces work exceptional well for this family’s life,” explains project architect, Claire Taggart, “Photographer Tom utilises the generous space and ceiling height to host shoots and the stage provides an ideal location for the children’s drama performances! Bold, green-painted steel stairs are the core feature of a vast and dramatic central atrium leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms.”

The atrium, bamboo planting and exterior sliding polycarbonate screens, reference the verdant character and market gardens that once stood on the back land plot – blurring boundaries between indoors and outside spaces. The screens and planting also enable the family to adjust the levels of privacy and ventilation.

Intelligent use of materials, including Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) walls, reclaimed concrete blocks and recycled cork rubber flooring maximise the energy efficiency of the property, while the central block form is an efficient approach to reduce operational energy use. Air-source heat pumps and solar panels are in use to also reduce energy demand.

According to RIBA Jury Chair, Dido Milne,“Green House, affectionately known as the ‘Tottenham Riad’, is a true oasis within the city. It is both airy and cosy, bold yet respectful of its neighbours. Your eye is simultaneously drawn upwards to open sky and down and out across the living room to verdant greenery.”Your eye is simultaneously drawn upwards to open sky and down and out across the living room to verdant greenery.”

The Jury also mentions the close architect and client relationship, and a joint desire to deliver a truly sustainable home, which is evident in the design decisions and detailing. 

“On a confined urban site, the house was delivered to a tight budget with an economy of means – and it remains richer for it.Nowhere do you feel the site or budget was restricted. It feels both luxurious, homely, deeply private and relaxing. It’s an extraordinary ordinary house and a remarkable collaboration,” they add.

The RIBA House of the Year 2023 jury comprised of Dido Milne, Director of CSK Architects, Bev Dockray, co-founder of Coppin Dockray Architects, Jessam Al-Jawad, Director and co-founder of multi-disciplinary architecture studio Al-Jawad Pike and Albert Hill, co-founder of The Modern House and Inigo.