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Royal Gold Medal 2018

Royal Gold Medal

Given in recognition of a lifetime's work, the Royal Gold Medal is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence 'either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture'

Royal Gold Medal 2018 recipient: Neave Brown

Neave Brown, the celebrated Modernist architect received the 2018 Royal Gold Medal, the UK’s highest honour for architecture, on 2 October 2017.

Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by the Monarch and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence 'either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture'.

Awarded since 1848, past Royal Gold Medallists include Zaha Hadid (2016), Frank Gehry (2000), Norman Foster (1983), Frank Lloyd Wright (1941) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (1859).

Neave Brown, the revered Modernist architect, is perhaps best known for his visionary 1970s Alexandra Road estate near Swiss Cottage built by Camden Council. With its striking stepped concrete terraces and spacious flats, not only does it provide 500 homes but, in Neave's own words, it's 'a piece of city', containing shops, workshops, a community centre, special needs school, children's centre, a care home for young people with learning difficulties and a 16,000sq m public park.

Brown believes every home should have its own front door opening directly onto a network of routes and streets that make up a city, as well as its own private external space, open to the sky, in the form of a roof garden or terrace. Each of these qualities was incorporated by Brown at Alexandra Road.

Reacting to the news that he will receive the Royal Gold Medal in recognition for his lifetime's work, Neave Brown said:

"All my work! I got it just by flying blind, I seem to have been flying all my life. The Royal Gold Medal is entirely unexpected and overwhelming. It's recognition of the significance of my architecture, its quality and its current urgent social relevance. Marvellous!"

Winscombe Street

The first of Brown's seminal works, Winscombe Street, was built by a co-operative set up by Brown and his friends; the second and third, Fleet Road and Alexandra Road, by Camden council, to which Brown had been drawn by the leadership of Sydney Cook. All three have since been listed, either grade 2* or grade 2, making Brown the only living architect to have all their UK schemes listed. 

Neave Brown's own home at Winscombe Street photo credit Martin Charles/RIBA Collections

In his citation for the Royal Gold Medal nomination, architectural historian and teacher Mark Swenarton said:

"At a time when the social dimension of architecture is receiving renewed attention, it is hard to think of anyone more fitting to receive the RIBA Royal Gold Medal 2018 than Neave Brown. Through his built works - and above all the acclaimed urban ensemble of Alexandra Road - Brown has provided a model of an architecture that is not just outstanding in its form but is thoroughly rooted both in the social relationships that it supports and in the urban tissue that it reinforces. Neave Brown stands for architecture in its fullest sense, as the creation of buildings and cities that are not just beautiful to behold but that also make our society a richer and better place in which to live."

RIBA President and Chair of the selection committee Ben Derbyshire said:

"The UK must now look back at Neave Brown's housing ideals and his innovative architecture as we strive to solve the great housing crisis. The Government must empower and then encourage every single council across the country to build a new generation of well-designed, affordable and sustainable homes that meet the needs of the millions of people currently failed by the housing market."

2014 Joseph Rykwert

2013 Peter Zumthor

2012 Herman Hertzberger

2011 David Chipperfield

2010 I. M. Pei

2009 Álvaro Siza Vieira

2008 Edward Cullinan

2007 Herzog & de Meuron

2006 Toyo Ito

2005 Frei Otto

2004 Rem Koolhaas

2003 Rafael Moneo

2002 Archigram

2001 Jean Nouvel

2000 Frank Gehry

1999 City of Barcelona

1998 Oscar Niemeyer

1997 Tadao Ando

1996 Harry Seidler

1995 Colin Rowe

1994 Michael and Patricia Hopkins