An Eco-Friendly Affordable Housing Project Just Won the RIBA Stirling Prize
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An Eco-Friendly Affordable Housing Project Just Won the RIBA Stirling Prize

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By Duncan Nielsen
Goldsmith Street beat out five other shortlisted nominees to scoop the coveted architecture award.

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.

Goldsmith Street takes on Norwich’s housing crisis with an eco-friendly design centered around communal green spaces. 

Throughout the development, pocket parks add green space and wide pathways prioritize pedestrian safety. 

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.

Three-story flats bookend rows of two-story houses.  

Passive solar design cuts energy costs by an estimated 70% per household.

Central terraces provide safe spaces for children to play.

"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."

Related Reading: 

This Is What the Best New Houses in London Look Like 

Announcing the Winners of the 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture

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