The exterior of House Lessans, the Grand Designs House of the Year winner 2019
14 November 2019

Northern Ireland home wins Grand Designs House of the Year 2019


A Northern Ireland home has won the much-coveted title of Grand Designs House of The Year 2019.

This impressive annual award is given by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to the UK’s best new architect-designed house.

Resting in Saintfield, Co Down, House Lessans was constructed in a distinctive L-shape and features a zinc roof over concrete block work.

This dwelling cost £335,000 to build. It was shortlisted from the Down to Earth category, which Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud defined as a collection of “plain-speaking, simple, honest homes”.

The exterior of House Lessans in Saintfield

Architect Kieran McGonigle from Belfast firm McGonigle McGrath, said the property “we hope, extends our understanding of how to make buildings in our countryside”.

McGonigle McGrath succeeded in designing a home of exceptional quality on a budget through the use of basic building materials, money-saving hacks and a simple arrangement of spaces.

Large windows have been fitted throughout the interior that contains openings for ventilation which is a cheaper alternative to bi-fold doors.

The walls have been constructed using concrete block that have been rendered outside and painted inside with flush mortar joins, ensuring a perfect finish.

The view surrounding House Lessans.

Chair of the 2019 RIBA House of the Year judging panel, architect John Pardey, highlights that the house was selected as the winner as it “represents a paradigm in creating relevant contemporary architecture that truly reflects its local context and culture”.

“It has an elegant simplicity achieved within a remarkably low budget without excesses, creating delight in the subtly changing volumes as well as its relationship between the inside and outside.”

He added: “The house takes the daily business of life and with the architects’ skills in making a house from simple materials, carefully detailed and with precise alignments, succeeds in becoming not just a house, but more importantly, a home.”

The open plan kitchen interior at House Lessans, the Grand Designs House of the Year winner 2019. A large window overlooks the patio area and rolling countryside. There is a central island and dining table.

Sylvia and Michael, the owners of the property, believes that this dwelling complements the Saintfield countryside perfectly:

“We feel that the house respects and indeed enhances the landscape. It is a joy to live in – from seeing the soaring bedroom ceiling on wakening, being surrounded by the gentle landscape in the kitchen during the day, to enjoying the sunset in the top room.

“We’re delighted to be a part of the RIBA celebration of the life-enhancing potential of architecture.”

A birds eye view of the lounge area in House Lessans, the Grand Designs House of the Year 2019 winner.

House Lessans was revealed as the winner during the final episode of the Channel 4 series, Grand Designs: House Of The Year, which aired on Wednesday 13th November.

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