Steal these innovative designs ideas from this contemporary English country house

riba house fo the year winner caring wood english country home grand designs

Photo credit: James Morris

Built over 1450 sqm of Kent countryside, Caring Wood is an extraordinary home. Inspired by traditional oast houses - the agricultural buildings for kilning hops - architects James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell's ambitious project seeks to recreate the traditional 'English country house' in the 21st century.

The architects also envisioned to build a family home that could accomodate three generations while emcompassing both a communal and private feel. 

Crowned as winner of the RIBA House of the Year 2017, 'the jury were impressed the quality of the build, the level of craftmanship and the rigour-packed materials' used in the Caring Wood project.

The design of the house was another defining factor that led Macdonald Wright and Maxwell to victory. Caring Wood is modern but shows 'clear links to the Kentish vernacular and local building traditions'.

We've rounded up our top 5 internal external design ideas used in Caring Wood which you can steal for your self-build project.  

Timber frame cladding

 indoor pool room with wooden walls and wooden ceiling caring wood

Photo credit: James Morris

This 'hidden' three-storey courtyard sits at the centre of the main house. Described as a 'sky space' for quiet contemplation, the courtyard is shut off from the communal areas of the houses and hosts breathtaking views of the surrounding land.

The building's form was developed around the central courtyard in order for the oast towers 'providing summer cooling by passive stack ventilation.' 

The use of exterior timber cladding contributes towards maintaining a low carbon footprint as requires less energy to product than any other construction material.

Oast towers with interlinking roofs and chestnut cladding

riba house of the year winner caring wood

Photo credit: Heiko Prigge

The house comprises of four towers with an interlinking roof which is built entirely using 'locally sourced peg clay tiles, locally quarried ragstone and locally coppiced chestnut cladding.'

The richness and warmth of the chestnut shade is fitting with the Kent countryside and gives off a true English country house feel.

Modern vernacular staircase

inside the riba house of the year caring wood sloping staircases

Photo credit: James Morris

Caring Wood comprises of many staircases, eight to be exact.

Macdonald Wright and Maxwell opted for the vernacular design, running the staircases from the communal spaces such as the living areas to the hidden cental courtyard. 

Rooftop windows

high ceiling roof top window riba house of the year winner caring wood

Photo credit: Heiko Prigge

Caring Wood also won the title of House of the Year 2017 due to it's 'excellent sustainable credentials.' The form of the building was developed around the central courtyard with the oast tower windows administering natural light and summer cooling by 'passive stack ventilation.' 

By using HF310 Internorm Timber Composite Passivhaus windows and HS330 Internorm Sliding Doors from Eco Haus, the architects were able to achieve glass corners and large openings throughout the building.

Using timber/aluminum means that the house is thermally insulated and 'provides a carbon neutral response to climate change.'

The angular design of the frames, their narrow construction and 'milled guiding rails' support the house' archtiectural design. And, they're built with 'energy-saving fibre glass' which is also available in 'low-level design. 

Wooden flooring

inside the caring wood house riba house of the year 2017

Photo credit: Heiko Prigge

Macdonald Wright and Maxwell chose wooden flooring and crisp white walls throughout the house.

This clean and contrasting colour combo 'emphasises the irregularities and height of the ceiling'. The colours compliment the deep terracotta cladding to mimic the make-up of a chestnut, which is a very fitting design for the 'English country home' inspired abode. 


Find out more about Caring Wood on Macdonald Wright's and Rural Office for Architecture's websites. 
What design features in Caring Wood are you most inspired by? Tweet us @granddesignsmag or post a comment on our Facebook page



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