A Home Designed for 3 Generations Wins RIBA House of the Year 2017

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awarded its House of the Year 2017 recognition to a home near Ulcombe in Kent, which was designed for three generations.

British architects James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell completed the design for the Caring Wood project early this year. It joined a list of 20 shortlisted properties in June 2016, when RIBA first announced the candidates for the award.

Design Inspiration

Wright and Maxwell drew inspiration from Kentish oast houses for their work on Caring Wood, particularly the use of the “roundel kilns.” A typical oast house can consist of a single storey or two with one or more kiln for hop-drying purposes. RIBA named it the best design for a new house in 2017, after a jury acknowledged the architects’ “brave” innovation for a multi-generational residence.

Jury chair Deborah Saunt said that the design could not only serve as a potential solution to the housing crisis in the country, but also indicate how homes would look like in the future. It allows families to spend more time together, while saving on costs at the same time.

Traditional Design

The design splits the home into four units that provide a separate place to stay for the inhabitants, which comprise the owners, their children’s spouses and children. RIBA said that the home represented a nostalgic nod to the traditional country home in England, yet featured “a contemporary design that has clear links to the rural vernacular”.

A traditional countryside home includes timber windows and structures. Caring Wood’s design will not be complete without the use of wood as a material. The architecture for the house included a barn clad in black-stained timber.


Caring Wood’s innovative design offers a chance for families to live together and save on costs, but with separate sections that still provide them with privacy.