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London Borough of Newham estate McGrath Road wins Neave Brown Award for Housing

The RIBA has announced McGrath Road as the winner of the Neave Brown Award for Housing 2021.

14 October 2021

Photography: McGrath Road © Morley von Sternberg

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced McGrath Road designed by Peter Barber Architects as the winner of the Neave Brown Award for Housing 2021, which recognises the UK’s best affordable housing.

McGrath Road has received the second Neave Brown Award for Housing, named after social housing pioneer, Neave Brown (1929 – 2018).

The series of London townhouses comprises 26 three and four-storey dwellings with social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership tenures. The houses are linked together by a communal tree-lined courtyard. The development challenges conventional housing configurations and sets a new standard for high-quality affordable housing. Peter Barber Architects’ considered scheme ensures all houses have balconies and private terraces and a living room on the top floor to embrace the views across the Capital.

Chair of the Neave Brown Award for Housing jury David Mikhail said:

“In addition to its sheer inventiveness, this project has made a huge contribution to the wider area; projecting its optimism, whilst managing to feel neighbourly. The architects have moulded a place of character, both within the scheme and the community it serves. It demonstrates how imaginative street-based architecture can be socially progressive and architecturally engaging – a combination that endears Peter Barber Architects’ work to so many people.”

RIBA President Simon Allford said:

“Intelligent, dynamic and original – this unique configuration of housing has the McGrath Road community at its heart. It’s an exemplar of high-quality social housing within one of London’s most densely populated boroughs and demonstrates what can – and must – be achieved across the country. It would, I am sure, have been championed by the late, great Neave Brown.”

The Neave Brown Award for Housing 2021 jury was chaired by the winner of the 2019 award David Mikhail, with co-founder and CEO of Public Practice Pooja Agrawal and Neave Brown family representative Mark Swenarton.


Notes to editors:

  1. Media contact: Emily 020 7307 3813.
  2. Images and citations for McGrath Road can be downloaded here.
  3. Neave Brown (1929 – 2018) was a modernist housing architect, best known for a series of housing estates in and around Camden in North London. Recognition for Neave Brown came late in life. His work in the 1960s and 70s was rejected for eschewing the high-rise norms of the time and instead – most notably in the case of Alexandra Road (1978) – focussing on a street-based alternative that placed an emphasis on communal spaces and shared facilities, whilst working within the constraints of local authority budgets and planning requirements and a dense and constrained urban context. His plans made clever use of space, creating capacious and generous rooms for occupants.
  4. To be considered for the Neave Brown Award for Housing 2021, projects needed to be a winner of a 2021 RIBA Regional Award, be made up of ten or more homes completed and occupied between 1 November 2017 and 1 February 2020, and at least one third of the housing needs to be affordable.
  5. The RIBA Awards have been running continuously since 1966, apart from 2020, when due to the COVID-19 pandemic they were postponed. The 2021 RIBA UK Awards (including Regional, National and the RIBA Stirling Prize) have been selected from the shortlist for the 2020 RIBA Regional, RIAS, RSUA, and RSAW Awards. No matter the shape, size, budget or location, RIBA Award winning schemes set the standard for great architecture all across the country. RIBA Awards are for buildings in the UK by RIBA Chartered Architects and RIBA International Fellows. Entries are to be submitted to the region or nation in which the building is situated. Winners are considered for the RIBA Stirling Prize.
  6. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates

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