Openstudio wins RIBA future housing design competition

"Infinite House" claims top prize in Taylor Wimpey-backed design contest

Openstudio Architects has walked away with a £10,000 prize pot after coming up with an innovative take on the future of sustainable housing design for housebuilder Taylor Wimpey, in an open international competition run by RIBA.

The London-based firm’s “Infinite House” could now be be added to Taylor Wimpey’s standard portfolio of homes.

The idea behind the competition – part of TW’s “Project 2020” vision – was to find “prototypes for the future”: innovative design solutions that meet home-owners’ lifestyle expectations, construction cost criteria, and sustainability objectives.

Infinite House is designed around a flexible external envelope, which enables buildings to be customised – “chameleon like” – to a variety of different uses without looking too much like identikit units – yet still maintaining the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of prototyping and serial fabrication. A variety of finish options, including stone, brick, render, stucco, timber, fibre cement, metal and ceramic panels, means that standard templates can be used, yet the finished houses should fit better with local landscapes than other off-the-shelf building designs.

Internal spaces can be configured to fit open-plan or separated living spaces, suitable for families, sharers or more lonesome livers. There’s also the built-in option of easy expansion into the roof space.

Five other designs have been shortlisted, with each practice getting £6,000 and progressing to the next stage of the competition.

The shortlist

  • Artform Architects (Founded 2013, Manchester)
  • Igor Russo and Razvan Andrei (Founded 2016, London)
  • More Design (Founded 2005, London)
  • Newground Architects (Founded 2013, London)
  • Openstudio Architects (Founded 2006, London)
  • Origin 3 Studio (Founded 2012, Bristol)

Taylor Wimpey Chief Executive Peter Redfern: “Congratulations to Jennifer and the team at Openstudio Architects on winning the Taylor Wimpey Project 2020 Open Design competition.

“This has been an engaging process, and we have been delighted by the level of interest and the quality of the entries. The standard of the six finalists was very high, which made our final decision a difficult one.

“After meeting the architects much debate was had on the merits of each entry, but ultimately we were impressed by the way in which Openstudio interpreted the brief, and the simplicity, effectiveness and appeal of the winning designs.”

Glenn Howells, RIBA adviser to the contest: “The Project 2020 competition not only attracted a high number of high-quality entries but prompted a number of innovative and challenging ideas as to how the family house could respond to new technologies and patterns of living.

“Openstudio’s proposals for the Infinite House, however, raised the bar in reconsidering the archetype of the terraced house. This project considered not only the urban implications and technical possibilities for off-site production but also explored how such a house could enrich lives through the quality of climate, space and light.”

RIBA adviser Sasha Bhavan: “While the judges were impressed by the range and quality of submissions, Openstudio’s Infinite House emerged as the clear winner.

“The depth of research, passion and analytical thinking that they brought to the brief was palpable. The quality of light achieved and the ability of the house to respond to location and orientation through material and plan options was impressive.”

Jennifer Benningfield, founder of Openstudio Architects  “The level of commitment to transforming housing through this competition has impressed us. At all stages Taylor Wimpey was thoughtful, thorough and careful in decision-making.

“There are many pressures on housing – cost, delivery methods, sustainability and context – but fundamentally a house should provide joy to its inhabitants and fulfilment of their needs. We have focused on the quality of the houses themselves, and particularly on daylight and adaptable planning, in our submission.

“We believe that our Infinite House project truly offers the flexibility and customisation that home-owners are looking for, and we look forward to working with the team at Project 2020 to realise and test the prototypes in the near future.”

Infinite House in pictures