Grand Designs House of the Year 2021 shortlist tonight

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the second episode of this sixth series of Grand designs: House of the Year 2021 airs tonight on Channel 4, as an architecture guru Kevin McCloud, supported by designer Michelle Ogundehin and architect Damion Burrows, visit five more cutting-edge housing projects, narrowing them down to two finalists for the FISH contest.

Tonight’s program includes the category, materials used in a new and beautiful way and follows Last week’s theme by houses that surprise you.

Here’s a sneak preview of what’s to come…

A house of beautifully worked concrete

McCloud will first visit rural Lincolnshire, a landscape dotted with farm barns. But he finds a barn with a difference.

It’s the new home of civil engineers Henry and Jen, and their young family, made of corten (or weathering steel), concrete, and black laminate cladding.

Downstairs consists of a minimalist polished concrete kitchen which flows into an open plan dining and living area. The glass doors slide all the way back to open the sides of the ground floor and the flat top is covered in vegetation.

The rust-colored barn with a pitched roof forms the first floor. It houses four bedrooms each with a glass door to the view. In the cantilevered black pod is the master bedroom suite which overhangs the living room.

Challenging as it was to build – the foundation consists of 90m piles that plunge through layers of sand and natural springs to sit in the chalk bed – McCloud describes it as ‘exceptional’ and ‘open minded’.

Wolds Barn


From abandoned alley to skinny house

The couple challenged themselves to place a joyful home in the narrow access route in south-west London. Using a handcrafted slender steel frame instead of brick and mortar saved them half a meter of wall and the exposed materials of the house (such as wooden beams) double as funky interior design and functional freeing up space.

There is a double height kitchen and living room on the ground floor with the whole back of the house glazed in to let in light. Upstairs is a mezzanine study which hangs above the living room, a bathroom and a study.

Castle house

/ Jim Stephenson 2019

The floor in the open space is made of cork to minimize noise and in places they have pushed back the thin layer of cladding to create planks. Even the stairs are mounted on the steel frame to save space.

On the outside, the pair used handmade, biscuit-fired, glazed brick slips rather than solid bricks that are a third deeper. It’s a contortionist of the building where the perfect use of material has created a real gem of a home, says Ogundehin.

A Scottish Scandi Fusion

A dilapidated old farmhouse, which had almost no windows, has been carefully converted into a redesigned stone lodge in the highlands.

Burrows visits the rental house which is made of locally quarried stone with a slate roof on the outside but modern Scandinavian fixtures and fittings on the inside with the rooms clad in and made from kiln-dried Danish oak. Even the toilet is cleverly hidden in natural wood joinery.

Kyle House

/ Alexander Baxter

There are also pocket doors that disappear seamlessly into the walls. On the ground floor is a kitchen and living room and upstairs are the bedroom and bathroom. On the side of the building, but low down, the architect punched square, wood-clad holes as windows overlooking the dramatic landscape. high-end and polished by an architect who felt it was his duty to save this dilapidated old building and also continue the rebuilding, says Burrows.

A world of wood

As the name suggests, McCloud will take the next step in a world of different forests in the Grain House.

Behind a traditional Victorian terrace house in East London is a new extension made from Siberian larch vines, some charred and some left naked to withstand the elements. The new space contains a sunken kitchen and dining room and a snug at the very back, then up a flight of stairs to a bedroom, sitting room and bathroom.

Stairs run down the side around a double height courtyard where live trees grow. It’s all from husband and wife Matt and Lucy and their five-year-old daughter Sylvia – meaning spirit of the forest.

grain house

/ Kilian O’Sullivan

Ash, Douglas fir, Oak and Walnut are used for different purposes: the stairs, the floor, the atrium and the kitchen cabinets. Above, strips of ash wood are woven together to make cabinet doors.

Other materials are also featured, such as Italian marble on the countertops and blush pink handmade tiles on the stairs. “We get a sense of calm just by looking at the wood,” Matt says.

A magical treetop

The last house on the long list is hidden in the Surrey Hills. At the back of a typical 1930s cottage is an incredible extension beneath an intricate 11m long wooden lattice that extends deep into the house and well into the garden.

This magical canopy is designed to please 10-year-old Theo and 8-year-old Oscar, who were both born with a rare genetic and degenerative condition called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. They live here with four-year-old Luca and parents Nick and Clara.

House for Theo and Oscar


Theo and Oscar’s “nice” rooms open onto the garden and are designed to feel like tree houses. The roof provides shade and creates a dappled light effect on the floor. He’s big and almost seems to float, but he had to be strong to hold the tackles that Theo and Oscar need.

The entire house has also been future-proofed for wheelchair users. Such a project is expensive, but a project developer and suppliers donated the expertise and materials. The family lived in a shack at the bottom of the yard for 13 months, but the wait was worth it – the extension has greatly improved the boys’ lives.

Ogundehin says it shows the power and possibilities of architecture.

To find out which two will advance to the Grand Designs: House of the Year 2021 finals, tune in to Channel 4 tonight at 9pm.


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