Thought all new builds were boxy affairs with too-small bedrooms, thin walls, 'safe' decor and characterless exteriors? Then prepare to have your mind blown! The winners of this year's WhatHouse? Awards turn new-build stereotypes on their head.
Wouldn't you love to live in a house with a wildflower sloping roof? Or a Regency-style mansion with a Hammam spa and a 12m swimming pool? We've picked out these and more of our favourite winners, some of which are still available to move into.
Habitat House, Gloucestershire – Winner, Best House
Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, Habitat House is one of 10 (so far) holiday homes designed by Featherstone Young Architects. Arranged over three floors, each house has its own private garden deck and lawn, balconies offering views of the nearby lake and a green wildflower roof.
These were intended local Cotswold stone and Western red cedar cladding, allows the homes to blend seamlessly in with the rest of the development while maintaining their own distinctive character. Each house has its own air source heat pump.
'The Habitat House offers exceptional value for money, with fantastic green credentials and a great specification for the price,' was the judges' verdict. 'We were impressed by the sense of space and light and the fabulous views from almost every room. A very worthy Gold winner.'
Grange Hall, Stoke Newington, London – Winner, Best Renovation
If nothing but period will do, then this winner will be right up your alley. Built as a school in 1837, the property – like many an Eastenders – has a very interesting history. It served as a church, a social club, a snooker hall and even a warehouse for electrical fittings, before Cubitt Greystock took it on and converted it into nine stunning homes.
We love how the period details have been respected and carefully maintained. All the stone detailing on the facades of the building have been carefully repaired and the original dormer windows were replaced with lookalikes featuring modern insulation. And there are some dramatic top-floor living areas, where the sloping ceilings are lined with the original timber boards.
Here's what the judges thought: 'Meticulous renovations such as this require an architect’s eye, attention to detail and problem solving at every step. While historic fabric is respected and retained wherever possible, new work is celebrated so the building is still readable, despite the vertical division of the internal volumes to create three floors of contemporary living space.'
Camp End Manor, Weybridge, Surrey – Joint Winner, Best Luxury Home
We'd forgive you for thinking this was another renovation, but Camp End Manor is in fact a brand-new property, built in the Regency style. Sitting on top of St George's Hill on the outskirts of Weybridge, this modern manor has views that go on forever, and looks just as good inside.
The main rooms have 3.5m-high ceilings, and interiors fit for a Queen. In fact, they were furnished by Linley Interior Design, and its founder, David Linley, Earl of Snowden, just happens to be the Queen's nephew. A huge limestone staircase leads up to the five en suite bedrooms, and there's also an eight-person lift that whisks you down to a bar, cinema, pool, sauna and spa.
Bath Riverside – Winner, Best Development
Before builders Crest Nicholson started developing this land on the banks of the River Avon in Bath, the 44-acre site had been abandoned, derelict, for more than 25 years. Soon, it will be the site of more than 2,000 homes, a school, parks and restaurants. There are a mixture of properties – including apartments, terraced houses and detached villas – their architecture inspired by Bath's Georgian buildings, with a modern twist.
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The judges said, 'The inherent elegance and softness of touch that has been achieved owes much of its success to the simple, clean lines of the buildings and this is reinforced by the consistency in the building palette, with Bath Stone used across the development. You could be forgiven for thinking that this development is all about the urban design, but it has also delivered contemporary, classic interiors with exciting communal spaces within the apartment buildings and light and airy interiors in the townhouses and apartments.'
Which one is your favourite?
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Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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