The Royal Institute of British Architects just awarded the 2019 Stirling Prize to Goldsmith Street, a new housing development that provides nearly 100 affordable housing units for the city of Norwich. It features communal gardens, wide alleyways that favor pedestrian safety, sweeping balconies, and an earth-friendly design.
Local firm Mikhail Riches designed the development to meet rigorous Passivhaus environmental standards. It "provides a high level of occupant comfort while using very little energy for heating and cooling," according to The Passivhaus Trust.
RIBA president Alan Jones calls the development a "beacon of hope," as it addresses both the global climate emergency and one of the worst housing crises the area has faced in generations. "It is commended not just as a transformative social housing scheme and eco-development," he says, "but as a pioneering exemplar for other local authorities to follow."
Goldsmith Street beat out a $1 million overhaul of London Bridge station, a house made entirely of cork, and an acoustically advanced opera house in Leicestershire, to name a few contenders.
"Goldsmith Street is a modest masterpiece," says Julia Barfield, who chairs the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize judges. "It is high-quality architecture in its purest, most environmentally and socially conscious form. Behind restrained creamy facades 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."