The character of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty comes not just from its rolling hills, fields and woods but also from the attractive villages, farm buildings and individual houses found throughout it. Consistent use of local materials has created the special and distinctive character of buildings in this area.
Today, with growing pressure for development around and sometimes within the AONB, it is more important than ever that new buildings reflect and complement the nationally-protected landscape around them. With this in mind, the Chilterns Conservation Board and Chiltern Society run an annual Buildings Design Awards competition to encourage and recognise great examples of design and construction based on the principles in the Chilterns Buildings Design Guide.
A wide range of building projects are eligible: new builds, extensions, restorations and renovations. The type of property that can be nominated is also broad: houses, workplaces, public buildings, farm buildings, bridges and more are all considered. The project must have been completed within the last three years.
Entries are encouraged from architects, builders, planners and members of the public.
We saw a very good number and quality of entries in 2017 with the judging panel visiting eight shortlisted properties in May.
Overall Winner 2017: Hundred Hills Vineyard in Stonor Valley
Designed by Nichols Brown Webber of Henley. Judges considered that the design of this property significantly enhances the site and locality, completely harmonises with its setting, uses high-quality local materials and pays attention to detailing. Above all it takes account of its relationship to the special character of the Chilterns.
Highly Commended 2017: House 19 in Amersham
A highly commended award will be given to Jestico & Whiles of London for a domestic project, House 19 in Amersham is completely carbon neutral, uses local materials and achieves a cool and contemporary effect whilst still being very much part of the Chilterns setting. The details are of the highest standard.
Commended 2017: Art, music and resource centre at Shiplake College
Nichols Brown Webber of Henley will receive a Commended award for a new art, music and resource centre at Shiplake College, with strong eco-credentials.
Commended 2017: Domestic development in Frieth
Danks Badnell of Windsor will also receive a Commended award for an interesting domestic development in Frieth which successfully combines two disparate buildings and also demonstrates strong eco credentials.
Missed this year? There's always next year. Entries will open in January 2018 and close on 1 March 2018 when they can be submitted by hard copy (see address on application form) or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Awards were not held in 2016, with any applications submitted rolled forward to the 2017 competition.
A strong field of entries this year resulted in the judges selecting three overall winners for the first time ever.
Overall Winner (Restoration): Restoration of The Great Barn at Micklefield Hall, near Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. A very careful restoration of a historic barn. This is a spectacular example of sensitive adaptation to a new use that brings together immensely clever building technology sandwiched between traditional surfaces.
Overall Winner (New Build): New building containing six flats, Warwick House, High Street, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. This piece of new country town architecture fits its setting at the northern end of the old High Street quite perfectly and provides a good 'book end' to the mix of styles in this lovely street. It is a quiet and gentle example of building in the Regency idiom.
Overall Winner (Renovation): Renovation and extension of cottage, Crendon Cottage, Speen, Buckinghamshire. A careful and well-considered renovation and extension of the Chilterns cottage, which has been done with real understanding of the vernacular and nice attention to the original intent of the place.
Highly Commended: Remodelling and extension of school, Chiltern Hills Academy, Chesham,
Buckinghamshire. Set high in the Chilterns on the edge of Chesham, this building commands extensive views of the surrounding countryside and must engender in the minds of its students an appreciation of the spiritual value of landscape and a love of beauty.
Overall winner: restored and extended cottage at 5 Windsor End, Beaconsfield, Bucks. A sympathetic and innovative transformation of a derelict listed terraced cottage won great admiration from the judges. The owners Sarah Boddington and Jonathan Sobczyk restored its Georgian facade whilst transforming the rear and interior of the property with flair. The use of traditional materials and workmanship of the highest quality has also contributed to the way this building now enhances the street scene only yards from the historic church of St Mary and All Saints in the heart of Beaconsfield.
Awarded for: The combination of: delightful design; careful use of materials; the creation of an oasis within the centre of the building and the courage involved in taking on such a project.
Highly Commended: refurbished farmhouse and conversion of outbuildings to residential use and farm office at Marchants Farm, Pudds Cross, Bovingdon, Herts. Awarded for: The charm and modesty of the additions, the retention of the hierarchy and character of the original buildings and the matching of materials.
Overall winner: new dance studios at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Tring, Herts. Awarded for: The development of a handsomely shaped building which demonstrates changing rhythms; fits well within its garden setting and brings together function and beauty with calmness and serenity.
Highly Commended: new office building, The Sawmills, near Henley-on-Thames. Awarded for: A building that has been constructed by craftsmen carefully using traditional materials, which fulfils the function of a modern office and sits happily within the landscape.
Commended: A new boathouse, boatyard and 2 dwellings by the Grand Union Canal in Berkhamsted. Awarded for: The sensitive redevelopment of a site that creates a modern vernacular which, whilst retaining a boatyard on site, sits in harmony with its post industrial surroundings.
Commended: a new house, Micasa, in Kings Langley, Herts. Awarded for: A well-planned building which is clean and crisp and does not dominate its surroundings, within which is a good hierarchy of linked spaces.
The overall winner, Horseshoe Hill House, has commanding views over the Thames Valley and is close to Burnham Beeches. It is a large, new house built in Georgian style surrounded by a formal garden with terrace and swimming pool, and yet retains a strong feel of a family home. The judges described it as “A superb, perfectly-executed building which has taken full account of its setting in the landscape and created the right building for the site”.
Two Highly Commended awards were given out. A small brick and flint studio built in the garden of a house in Bledlow Ridge near High Wycombe was admired by the judges as a charming addition to the main house. It is being used as an office and guest accommodation. The other award went to 37-39 London End in Beaconsfield, two adjacent listed buildings. An original shop front has been reinstated and a contrasting modern extension added at the rear.
The restoration of The Old Brewery House in Ivinghoe received a Commended Award. Built in the 18th century as a family home, during the 20th century it was used for many decades as a youth hostel. It has now been sympathetically restored to reflect its origins as a Georgian family home.
The Berks Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust’s new Visitor Centre at College Lake Nature Reserve near Tring received a Special Commendation as a really engaging, well-judged and welcoming building which takes full account of its setting and leads the visitor into the secret landscape beyond.
There was a strong field of entries in 2011 and two properties were selected as joint Overall Winners. Little Green Street Farm near Little Chalfont is a Victorian model farm which has been restored by DK Engineering to house their very successful business of restoring and servicing Ferrari sports cars. Using local materials and local craftsmen the neglected barns have been repaired and re-tiled in a very sensitive manner to maintain their traditional appearance. The other joint winner was Kingsford cottage in Speen, near Princes Risborough. The owners have added a two-storey timber-clad extension which was inspired by the past industries of Speen such as chair-making and lace-making, carried out by people in wooden outbuildings next to their homes. The new extension has added lots of modern family spaces to the cottage whilst acknowledging the local vernacular.
A Highly Commended award was given to Tring Local History Museum, which is housed in a sensitively-refurbished office building in Tring’s Market Place. A Special Project Award went to Aylesbury Sailing Club for the superb volunteer effort to refurbish and extend their elderly clubhouse next to Weston Turville Reservoir.
In 2010 The Zinc House in Little Chalfont was awarded Overall Winner. This new house is strikingly contemporary, and every element, down to the furniture and the skirting boards, was specifically designed for it. A lot of attention was also paid to the outdoor space, with the garden divided into a number of ‘rooms’. The white render of the building and its zinc roof, reflecting the grey slates of nearby houses, were chosen by the architects to help the houses fit in with its surroundings.
A Highly Commended was given to The Chalet in Aston Clinton. This former Rothschild property, designed in the style of an alpine chalet with an opulent interior, has been refurbished and extended using the best quality materials and skilled craftsmanship. A Commended award was given to Stivers, an Arts and Crafts style house in Chalfont St Giles, which has been skilfully extended to provide more living space.
In 2009 the overall winner was a glass and steel extension to a Victorian house in Berkhamsted. The extension encloses a courtyard and the judges were very impressed with the way it complements the main house and allows the attractive Victorian building to shine through whilst also being a beautiful structure in its own right.
Two Commended awards were also given. One went to the development of The Akeman bar and restaurant in Tring, for its thoughtful and ingenious mix of a traditional Victorian façade and a large modern extension to house the kitchen and restaurant. The other award went to Chisbridge Farm at Frieth near High Wycombe for a barn extension to house a swimming pool. The judges commended the sensitivity of its design and the quality of the construction which used traditional local materials such as clay tiles and flint.
In 2008 a new house in Penn near High Wycombe was chosen as the overall winner. Holmwood is a six bedroom family home built in the traditional Arts and Crafts style and set in beautifully landscaped gardens. The judges were very impressed with the attention to detail shown in the design and construction of the house and felt it was a great addition to the built environment of the Chilterns.
A highly commended award was given to the sensitive conversion of a historic barn at Flamstead Farm near Chesham to residential use. A special project award was given to a new sports hall at Moulsford Preparatory School in Moulsford near Goring-on-Thames which fits its riverside surroundings very well.
In 2007 the judges chose a new accommodation annexe at The Crown Inn at Playhatch near Reading as the overall winner. The award was given for the bold use of materials in the building and its form. The judges were also impressed with the way the annexe sits within its site in the grounds of the 16th century pub.
Two commended awards were given. One went to a two storey extension to Sandene, a 1930s house in Gerrards Cross, which ties in very well with the original house. The other went to a development of five new affordable homes at Bledlow, near Princes Risborough, where good attention has been paid to the design detail of the scheme. A special project award was given to the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted for its new building, in recognition of the huge enthusiasm and vision which has gone into it and the resulting building which functions very well.
In 2006 the overall winner of the Chilterns Buildings Design Awards was Manor Farm, in Bledlow near Princes Risborough. The judges admired the skilled way in which the farmhouse was extended and barns converted to offices and workshops, with plenty of local materials used. In addition to the overall winner two Highly Commended Awards were given out. One went to Crown Farm in Amersham for the rebuilding of an oak-framed barn that had been reduced to ashes by a freak fire. The second was given to Russell’s Farm Cottage at Rockwell End near Hambleden, Bucks for the restoration and extension of a 400 year-old cottage. Both projects demonstrated extensive use of traditional techniques and materials to bring vernacular buildings back to life.
In 2005 Thatched Cottage, Mill End, Hambleden was chosen as the Overall Winner of the Chilterns Buildings Design Award. Thatched Cottage is a 19th century cottage that has been sensitively extended to incorporate a new hallway, bathroom, study and balcony in a manner that complements the existing dwelling and makes the most of its excellent location.
Two Highly Commended Awards were given: one to Greenfield Farm at Christmas Common for the removal of a flat roof and its replacement with a pitched roof with dormer windows, and the other to Lavender Cottage at Flaunden for a two storey side extension to the Grade II listed cottage. Both of these showed excellent design and use of local materials. Two Special Project Awards were given: one to Saint Nicholas Church at Hedsor for the construction of a new toilet block with disabled facility and access to the church and the other to 173 High Street in Berkhamsted for the major repair and opening up of a 16th century shop which was previously unlisted but which is now Grade II listed.
In 2004 two entries were chosen as joint overall winners. Klee House near Great Missenden is a 1950s modernist house which has been extended in a manner which complements the existing house extremely well. Its interior has also been furnished in an authentic 1950s style. Crown Meadow in Old Amersham is a new house sensitively sited on an old orchard. Its design and location accentuates the interest of the back of Amersham's historic high street.
Two Highly Commended Awards were given: one to Cane End Stud in south Oxfordshire for a conversion and extension to create a new stables complex and the other to Crowmarsh Battle Barns near Wallingford for the sympathetic conversion of an old granary into an office. A Special Project Award was given to Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway Association for the rebuilt station building in Chinnor which was constructed entirely through volunteer effort.
Further details of all winners, both past and present, can be obtained from the Conservation Board office.