The Black house main
The Black House detail


  • RIBA Award 2004
  • Daily Telegraph/Homebuilding and Renovating Awards 2003: Shortlisted for Best Eco-House
  • RIBA Spirit of ingenuity Awards 2003: Runner-up Best New House
  • RIBA Manser Medal 2004: Winner
  • Bauwelt Prize 2005: Shortlisted

The Black House, Cambridgeshire, 2004

The Black House sits overlooking the Fens, looking west towards Ely Cathedral. It sits high in the landscape, taking as a model the barns and houses that roll out over the flat Fen, scattering the landscape like dice.
The house is clad in Eternit profile 6 cement fibre corrugated cladding, and painted black, emulating local vernacular barns. Flat panels painted brighter colours mark the entrance ways. The black cladding is set against stained Danish softwood windows, larger on the field side, with minimal glazing to the north.
The plan of the house is long and thin, with windows lining up at front and back to give rooms light from both sides and a sense of the house being see-through. At the heart of the ground floor is the kitchen/dining room; circulation on the ground floor takes place through this room. Vertically, a stairway with glazed balustrading allows views through all three storeys. Heat is provided by a heat pump, and external shading prevents overheating.
The building was Mole’s first realised building and was designed as a model for a low-energy house: embodying a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, elimination of extensive use of high-energy production materials, an air to air heat pump heating system that offers an alternative to fossil fuel, high low- energy lighting percentage, re-cycled materials, locally or European sourced products.


photography: John Donat, Ray Main

The Black House bedroom

“Most praiseworthy of all, however, is that the house has such a distinctive character, so different from its conventional neighbours and yet so appropriate to its rural location.”

– RIBA Manser Medal Jury Citation 2004

The Black house ext1
The Black House ext2
The Black House Sketch

“You look at this one and think, ‘yes,

just like that and no more’.”

– RIBA Manser Medal Jury Citation 2004

The Black House int1
The Black House kitchen