The anticipated announcement of this year's Stirling Prize winner for the UK's best new building has finally dropped: at a big event hosted by the Royal Institute of British Architects in London this evening, the prestigious selection fell on Goldsmith Street, an ultra low-energy social housing development in Norwich, designed by Mikhail Riches Architects with Cathy Hawley.
Described as a "modest masterpiece" by RIBA Stirling Prize jury chair Julia Barfield, the project also won the inaugural Neave Brown Award for Housing.
Goldsmith Street beat out five other shortlistees, including the Macallan Distillery by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Nevill Holt Opera by Witherford Watson Mann Architects, Cork House by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton, London Bridge Station by Grimshaw, and The Weston by Feilden Fowles Architects.
"Goldsmith Street is comprised of almost 100 ultra low-energy homes for Norwich City Council," explains RIBA's project description. "In contrast to the higher-rise flats dominating the surrounding area, Goldsmith Street is arranged in seven terrace blocks, modelled on the Victorian streets of the nearby ‘Golden Triangle’ district.
"Rows of two-storey houses are bookended by three-storey flats, each with their own front door, generous lobby space for prams and bikes, and a private balcony. The back gardens of the central terraces share a secure ‘ginnel’ (alleyway) for children to play together, and a wide landscaped walkway for communal gatherings runs perpendicularly through the middle of the estate. Parking has been pushed to the outer edges of the development, ensuring that people own the streets, not their cars."
"Goldsmith Street meets rigorous ‘Passivhaus’ environmental standards – remarkable for a dense, mass housing development. It is a passive solar scheme, designed to minimise fuel bills for residents (annual energy costs are estimated to be 70% cheaper than for the average household). To maximise solar gain, all homes face south and every wall is over 600mm thick, and the roofs are angled at 15 degrees to ensure each terrace does not block sunlight from homes in the street behind. Even the smallest details have been meticulously considered: letterboxes are built into external porches, rather than the front doors, to reduce any possibility of draughts; and perforated aluminium ‘brise-soleils’ provide sun shades above the windows and doors."
"Faced with a global climate emergency, the worst housing crisis for generations and crippling local authority cuts, Goldsmith Street is a beacon of hope," RIBA President Alan Jones praised the winning design. "It is commended not just as a transformative social housing scheme and eco-development, but a pioneering exemplar for other local authorities to follow."
The jury for the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize included Julia Barfield (Chair); RIBA President, Alan Jones; 2018 RIBA Stirling Prize winner, Michael Jones, Foster + Partners; Lay Assessor, Kathy Gee MBE and Zac Monro, Principal at Zac Monro Architects. Architect Gary Clark was the sustainability adviser.
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