Goldsmith Street by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley has won the 2019 Stirling Prize: awarded to the UK’s best new building.
The project for Norwich City Council is made up of almost 100 highly energy-efficient homes. Rows of two-storey houses are bookended by three-storey flats, each with their own front door, generous lobby space for prams and bikes, and a private balcony. The back gardens of the central terraces share a secure ‘ginnel’ (alleyway) for children to play together, and a wide landscaped walkway for the community runs directly through the middle of the estate. Parking has been pushed to Goldsmith Street’s outer edges, making sure that people, not cars, own the streets.
Goldsmith Street also meets rigorous Passivhaus standards – remarkable for a dense, mass housing development. It is a passive solar scheme, designed to minimise fuel bills for residents: annual energy costs are estimated to be 70% cheaper than for the average household. Even the smallest details have been thought about: letterboxes are built into external porches to reduce any possibility of draughts, and perforated aluminium ‘brise-soleils’ provide sun shades above windows and doors.
The 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize judges, chaired by Julia Barfield, said:
"Goldsmith Street is a modest masterpiece. It is high-quality architecture in its purest, most environmentally and socially conscious form. Behind restrained creamy façades 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."
The RIBA Stirling Prize is judged against a range of criteria including design vision; innovation and originality; capacity to stimulate, engage and delight occupants and visitors; accessibility and sustainability; how fit the building is for its purpose and the level of client satisfaction.
The RIBA Awards are the most rigorously judged prizes for architectural excellence in the UK, with the winning buildings then eligible for the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize.
Born in 1996 out of its predecessor, The Building of the Year Award, The RIBA Stirling Prize is presented to RIBA Chartered Architects and International Fellows for buildings in the UK which have made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture over the past year.
The RIBA Stirling Prize is named afterJames Stirling. Stirling won the Royal Gold Medal in 1980 'in recognition of past achievements which exist in their own right, as well as the potential of unbuilt projects, both past and future, which are an inseparable part of the Stirling vocabulary'.
Often described as a 'prophet without honour in his own country', he did not live long enough to achieve the public recognition and success his peers achieved after his untimely death. He died, at the height of his powers, following a routine operation.