Goldsmith Street housing scoops 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize

Goldsmith Street housing scoops 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize

Few awards have us on the edge of our seat like the RIBA Stirling Prize. The annual gong, given out by the renowned British institute, is one of the highest honours in architecture and this year’s winner has just been announced; the Goldsmith Street council estate in Norwich, designed by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley, scooped the prize. 

The worthy winner, revealed at a celebratory dinner and ceremony tonight in London, was praised by the judges for its modesty and architectural brilliance that combines sustainability in both environmentally and social sense. The complex meets rigorous ‘Passivhaus’ environmental standards, and comprises some 100 ultra low-energy homes for Norwich City Council, arranged in rows of two-storey house, bookended by three-storey flats.

Goldsmith Street Housing
Fostering community values, the back gardens of the central terraces share a secure ‘ginnel’ (alleyway) for children to play together. Photography: Tim Crocker

The project won against some pretty tough competition from no less than five other, notable schemes: London Bridge Station by Grimshaw; The Weston at Yorkshire Sculpture Park by Feilden Fowles; Nevill Holt Opera by Witherford Watson Mann Architects; Cork House by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton; and The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

‘Goldsmith Street is a modest masterpiece,’ say the judges, a panel chaired by Julia Barfield. ‘It 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 ten 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.’ §

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