Goldsmith St. wins RIBA award

Norwich city’s ground-breaking, eco-efficient council homes on Goldsmith Street were awarded the Stirling Prize by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). 

Made up of 93 ultra-low-energy homes arranged in seven terrace blocks, this highly sustainable Norwich council estate has won Britain’s most prestigious architecture award, The RIBA Stirling Prize, on 8th October 2019. Contending for the top spot were the likes of London Bridge Station, the Nevill Holt Opera and Market Harborough.

“Faced with a global climate emergency, the worst housing crisis for generations and crippling local authority cuts, Goldsmith Street is a beacon of hope,” said RIBA President, Alan Jones.

The RIBA Stirling Prize was first established in 1996 and is given annually to the architect of the building thought to be the most significant of the year for the evolution of architecture and the built environment.

Built per German “Passivhaus” environmental standards, each house’s energy costs are set to be 70% cheaper than an average household. The development was modeled on nearby Victorian streets, which feature two-storey houses bookended by three-storey flats. The houses do not rely on any fuel-heating methods and even their litter boxes, built into the external porches, have been designed to save energy and water.

The architect and designers at Mikhail Riches ensured that the estate was eco-friendly – from its solar energy schemes to its hard-landscaping. According to RIBA, the estate’s environmental achievements were highly distinctive for mass housing complexes.

Besides its aim to elicit a wave for pro-environmental architecture, the estate also nudged on ‘community spirit.’ Behind the central terraces are back gardens where children can securely play and adults can host communal gatherings. However, the estate also provides its residents with a sense of autonomy and individuality through its colored front doors, generous lobby space for prams and bikes and private balconies.

Councillor Gail Harris, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member for social housing, said: “This is an incredibly proud moment for Norwich, our strong history of building social housing and our ambitions to raise environmental standards.Winning this prestigious award shows that it is possible to build fantastic new council homes, despite the challenges posed by central government cuts and restrictions around Right to Buy receipts.”

Apart from the Stirling Prize, Goldsmith Street has also been awarded the first Neave Brown Award for Housing, an award named in honor of the acclaimed late architect who pioneered quality public housing.

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Monique Santoso

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May 2022
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