Norwich housing development claims RIBA Stirling Prize 2019

  • The top of Goldsmith Street
  • 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize winner
  • A row of houses on Goldsmith Street
  • Housing facades on Goldsmith Street

A council scheme in Norwich has claimed this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize.

Goldsmith Street, which boasts 100 homes, is the first ever council scheme to win the prize and was developed by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley.

Backed by Norwich City Council and described as a ‘modest masterpiece,’ the idea for the estate was conceived over 10 years ago and saw off competition from a list of five other finalists.

Due to Riches and Hawley’s focus on making the housing sustainable, the low levels of energy needed to heat the homes at Goldsmith Street mean that annual fuel costs are estimated to be about 70% cheaper than the average household.

This is proper social housing, over 10 years in the making, delivered by an ambitious and thoughtful council.

“We all know we have a climate and a species loss emergency so we know measuring embodied carbon has to be the next step,” said Riches.

“We would ask for government to regulate. We need you to set up a level playing field so we are not seen as the ‘mad crusties’ in the room.”

Chair of the jury, Julia Barfield, said: “[Goldsmith Street] is high-quality architecture in its purest most environmentally and socially conscious form.

“Behind restrained creamy façades are impeccably detailed, highly sustainable homes – an incredible achievement for a development of this scale. This is proper social housing, over 10 years in the making, delivered by an ambitious and thoughtful council. These desirable, spacious, low-energy properties should be the norm for all council housing.”

The maximise the amount of solar energy, all of the homes face south and have 600mm thick walls. Other environmentally features include letterboxes built into external porches, rather than the front doors, to reduce any possibility of draughts and perforated aluminium brise-soleils which provide sunshades above the windows and doors.

Goldsmith Street is only the second ever housing project to have won the award, after Cambridge’s  Accordia housing development were awarded the title in 2008.

(image: jim stephenson)

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