Shawm House

A template for a new generation of self-build homes, constructed by the client whilst living and working on site.

About this project

Shawm House is located in North Northumberland on the border of the National Park. The project successfully gained planning permission in what, in planning terms, is considered ‘open countryside.’ This rare achievement was due to the clients’ desire for an outstanding piece of architecture that would create an accessible, comfortable, highly energy efficient home, using local and traditional materials in a contemporary way.

Shawm is an old Northumberland term meaning ‘to warm oneself’ and the house uses a simple form which is ‘wrapped’ a super insulated blanket cladded in larch. Working closely with the client the project is an exemplar of contemporary sustainable design and aims to use Passivhaus principles and innovative construction techniques.

The new build two storey element sits on the footprint of a demolished barn and connects to the existing single storey barn which will be converted into sleeping quarters and home office.

The house maximises the views over the valley with the large open plan living space on the first floor. To the ground floor are further bedrooms and study which open out to the landscaped external space incorporating a rain garden and habitat walls.

From the RIBA Award jury “Shawm house is quite simply special. It isn’t often that you visit a self-build or professionally procured house that is immaculately constructed, sensitively conceived and has heart and soul with which it impossible not to make an emotional connection.”

As a result of Shawm House the architect and developer have founded a joint venture to deliver more sustainable 'Shawm Houses'.


Manser Medal - Shortlisted
RIBA National Building Award
RIBA House of the Year – Shortlisted
RIBA North East – Building Award
RIBA North East – Small Project of the Year
RIBA North East – Sustainability Award
RIBA North East – Project Architect of the Year
Telegraph Home Building Renovation Award – Shortlisted Best Contemporary Self Build
The Sunday Times British Homes Awards - Small House of the Year

Further information



Key contacts


Richard Pender


Mawson Kerr

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