The Royal Institute of Architecture’s biggest award has this year been awarded to a project by Norwich City Council. As well as the RIBA Stirling Prize 2019, the Goldsmith Street project has won the RIBA East Award 2019, RIBA East Client of the Year 2019, RIBA East Sustainability Award 2019, RIBA National Award 2019 and the Neave Brown Award for Housing 2019.
The 105 home layout is an arrangement of four rows of terrace blocks spaced 14 metres apart, offering a mix of terrace houses and end-of-terrace flats. Phase 1 of the project comprises 45 two and four bedroom houses and 48 one and two bedroom flats. A further 12 flats form Phase 2.
The mews layout is very much in the English tradition but there are notable exceptions.
The buildings are brick-built with black pantile roof coverings and metal brise soleil.
The energy-conscious homes are Passivhaus certified, with low roof profiles to maximise the warmth of winter sunlight. The Passivhaus constraints meant that letterboxes could not be inserted in the front door, so instead they are built into the wall. The homes are protected from too much summer sun by window shading.
Bin stores are located at the front of the properties which have private front gardens. At the back of the properties, a wavy and landscaped footpath links the private back gardens.
Car parking is provided away from the properties to encourage social interaction and more pedestrian use of the tree-lined streets.
However, this is not an expensive new suburb of Norwich; the Neave Brown Award is awarded to the best new example of affordable housing in the UK and projects can only be considered if at least a third of the properties are affordable.
Chairman of the Stirling Prize judges, Julia Barfield, said “These desirable, spacious, low-energy properties should be the norm for all council housing.”
Ben Derbyshire, chairman of the Neave Brown judges, described Goldsmith Street as “an exemplar for social housing”. He said: “The result is not just a highly desirable new neighbourhood for Norwich, but homes of the highest quality and most exacting environmental standards. That the outcome appears so naturally at ease in its context requires skill and determination belied by the scheme’s apparent simplicity. The UK urgently needs more ambition and creativity to drive the housing revolution that is needed, and Goldsmith Street shows us how it can be done.”
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