Notes to editors
For images and further information please contact Mina Vadon in the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3761 or email@example.com
Full citation follows:
Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK4 4DA
Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Client: Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd
Contractor: Wood Newton
Structural Engineer: P J Steer
Services Engineer: RYBKA
Contract Value: £13m
Date of completion: August 2007
Gross internal area: 30,000 sq m
Oxley Woods achieves something which should have happened sixty years ago. This is mass, factory produced housing, erected in three days, incorporating top technology, top energy performance, varied house designs, a choice of cladding materials and a wide variety of estate layouts. It is a radical, innovative and an outstanding step away from the traditional mud and mess of the domestic building site.
The scheme is the fruit of John Prescott's initiative to promote off-site construction of housing, at knock-down prices. His English Partnerships promoted competition challenging architects and developers to come up with the £60,000 house (minus land costs), meeting demanding environmental standards, produced several innovative solutions of which this is the first to be delivered – and in all probability will prove to be the most interesting. Full-height insulated wall panels were erected first, followed by floors and roofs. The pods on the roofs contain solar heaters and heat exchangers for the background ventilation system.
The project represents a thorough-going attempt at innovation within the all-too risk-averse conventional housebuilders' market. It achieves well-designed and spacious-seeming housing with excellent daylight. The scheme is therefore well deserving of the award for its through-going spirit of innovation and the élan of its design.
It puts out important messages about methods of procurement and construction not least through its strong architectural graphics. All too often clever ideas end up looking worthy and dull, leaving the message to evaporate. This has not happened at Oxley Woods. The architects inherited a rigid site layout and this is one of the reasons why the project looks so radical: the drama of the scheme is heightened by the juxtaposition of unconventional design and a conventional layout.
Positive feedback from residents is unprecedented. Equally unusual is the level of co-operation between architect, contractor and building product supplier to achieve sustainability and waste management targets.
The project represents a thorough-going attempt at innovation within the all-too risk-averse conventional housebuilders' market. It points the way forward to achieving high environmental standards in quality housebuilding where design comes first.
1. There is a happy coincidence that Oxley Woods is winning in the same year that the Le Corbusier 'The Art of Architecture' exhibition has been put together. Corbusier's mass produced dwellings at Bordeaux-Pessac were very much an early attempt at solving the problems addressed at Oxley Woods. Corbusier called his Pessac scheme "The genuine industrialisation of the builders yard" (Towards a New Architecture - 1927).
2. The Oxley Woods Scheme has such an important construction/procurement message (non-visual) that it was in my mind completely appropriate to give the scheme an equally strong graphic/architectural image. Very often very clever ideas end up looking worthy and dull, leaving the message to evaporate. This has not happened at Oxley Woods.
3. It struck me that one of the reasons why the project looks so radical is that the houses are positioned in line with the layout that the Architects inherited. I think this heightens the drama of the scheme. Visually unconventional homes set out in a conventional way. One great terrace of these plans may well be more efficient but may not look so intriguing. (Steven Marshall)
The RIBA Stirling Prize in association with The Architects' Journalis the UK's most prestigious architectural prize and is awarded annually to the architects of the building which has made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year. The RIBA awards programme was re-organised in 2007 in a pyramid structure. The RIBA Awards are judged and presented locally and the the RIBA National Awards are judged and presented nationally. The RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist is selected following further visits to winners of the RIBA National Awards and of RIBA European Awards for buildings in the rest of the EU
From 2008 the RIBA Stirling Prize becomes a 'built or designed in Britain' All RIBA Award winners can be seen at www.architecture.com
The RIBA Awards and RIBA Stirling Prize are managed by the RIBA Trust. The RIBA Trust manages the cultural assets of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), including the internationally recognised collections of the British Architectural Library. It is the UK's national architecture centre, delivering the RIBA Awards and RIBA Stirling Prize (live on Channel 4); the Royal Gold Medal; International and Honorary Fellowships; Architecture Week (with Arts Council England and the Architecture Centre Network); a full programme of lectures, exhibitions, tours and other events; and an education programme.