Green public housing wins UK's top architecture prize
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the result of the most important architecture competition in the country. Norwich public housing development Goldsmith Street, by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley, has been declared the 2019 Stirling Prize winner thanks to its energy-efficiency and superb design.
Goldsmith Street consists of 105 homes commissioned by Norwich City Council that are arranged in seven blocks of terraces, echoing nearby Victorian-era homes. Their black roof tiles nod to the city's longstanding Dutch trading links and the clay bricks used are similar to those in the surrounding Victorian homes.
Rows of two-story houses are flanked by three-story apartment buildings, each with their own front door, lobby space for prams and bikes, and a private balcony (alas, no photos are available of the interiors). The rear gardens of the central terraces share a secure alleyway for children to meet and play, and a wide landscaped walkway for communal gatherings runs through the middle of the development. Parking has been pushed to the outer edges, in a bid to create a pedestrian-friendly space.
The project is very energy-efficient and meets the stringent Passivhaus green building standard, which focuses on air-tightness and excellent insulation. All homes are built ro maximize solar gain and each wall is over 600 mm (23 in) thick. The roofs are angled at 15 degrees to ensure the homes don't block the available sunlight for those in the street behind, and perforated aluminum screens are also installed to shade the windows and doors.
Impressively, RIBA says that the homes' energy costs are estimated to be 70 percent cheaper annually than the average British household.
"Faced with a global climate emergency, the worst housing crisis for generations and crippling local authority cuts, Goldsmith Street is a beacon of hope," says RIBA President Alan Jones. "It is commended not just as a transformative social housing scheme and eco-development, but a pioneering exemplar for other local authorities to follow."