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Moving pictures: Fayland House by David Chipperfield

AR House winner 2015: An atmospheric film of David Chipperfield Architects’ Fayland House which quiety subverts the English country house typology

The AR House Awards celebrate excellence in one-off house design. This year’s jury Adam Caruso, Sofia von Ellrichshausen and Pippo Ciorra, with AR Editor Christine Murray as chair, chose David Chipperfield’s Fayland House as the winner of the AR House Awards 2015.

While its columns evoke a timeless classicism, this dwelling’s courtyard plan is a radical new take on the English country house. While this substantial, not to say palatial house occupies an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it manages to do so without pomposity through its delicate relationship with the landscape and choice of materials.

The judges’ comments

Adam Caruso, Caruso St John
‘The judging was enjoyable. We talked a lot about how minimalist Modernism continues to be such a compelling theme for architect-designed homes. None of us was interested in those projects. We were aware of the significance of choosing a house with a large budget, but so many houses are luxurious these days and yet have so little architectural quality. To make a luxury home that isn’t pompous or a projection of the vanity of its inhabitants is a really difficult thing. Fayland House places a very large house in a special landscape without disappearing. The domestic outdoor spaces, which have always been an issue in English country houses, are in courtyards, which is an innovation.’

Sofia von Ellrichshausen, Pezo von Ellrichshausen
‘In many of the houses that we saw, there was a self-conscious response to the media’s constant demand for novelty, with no link to the conditions of the place where they were made. I hope to be surprised by projects that emerge without knowing if they’ll ever be published or not. The winner, Fayland House, does push what a house is. It takes normal elements and manipulates them.

It very rigid from the outside, but the plan is a lot less obvious

That colonnade in the front and the way it modulates the scale on the landscape is very interesting. It also seems to be very rigid from the outside, but the plan is a lot less obvious, offering differing levels of privacy, and arranged around courtyards. The fact that Chipperfield has a large office but can still maintain a high level of quality in a small-scale project is a lesson, of course.’

Pippo Ciorra, architecture curator, MAXXI 
‘Judging is always a strange experience where you learn a lot. I was very happy to see the global span of the entries, which is extremely successful for the awards, but there were actually many commonalities among the houses. This is very revealing, but also kind of flat. Maybe this architectural world needs to be shaken again. But also it’s a social problem. Single family houses were ghosts in architectural culture, now they are becoming the norm and we need to negotiate how we can build something that is post urban. Fayland House combines fragments of architectural archetypes to create a family house behind one facade with very light circulation. Rather than the vocabulary, what’s interesting is the way these fragments are put together to negotiate a complicated site.’

Christine Murray, Editor, The Architectural Review 
’The judges set themselves a difficult task: they wanted to find a house that was not just well-designed, but subversive in some way. They found in Chipperfield’s Fayland House a plan that subverted the expectations set up by its rigid, rhythmic facade. The uncomfortable girth of the columns and the way they mediated the landscape was also mentioned. The project pushes at boundaries. They also found its restrained opulence interesting, but I think the real enthusiasm was in the courtyards embedded in its asymmetrical plan and that beautiful enfilade. The plan was the thing.’



Entries are now open for AR Schools awards
The Architectural Review is seeking the most exciting places of learning in the world - from kindergartens to universities, nurseries to high schools. This is your chance to be recognised on the global stage as a leading designer of spaces for learning. The deadline is 7 August.
For more information on AR Schools and to enter the awards, visit


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