Neave Brown to Receive 2018 Royal Gold Medal

John Hill
28. September 2017
Neave Brown (Photo: Gareth Gardner)

Although he is not a household name like other recent winners of the Royal Gold Medal – Paulo Mendes da Rocha (2017), Zaha Hadid (2016), and Peter Zumthor (2013) – Neave Brown has the distinction of being the only living architect whose UK projects are all listed buildings. Most famous of these is the Alexandra Road estate from the late 1970s, which distinctively features two rows of terraced, concrete rowhouses facing each other across a curving pedestrian walkway.

RIBA describes the project in its statement on the Royal Gold Medal:

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.

When told he would be receiving the Royal Gold Medal, Brown said excitedly:

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. Marvelous!

And historian Mark Swenarton, author of a forthcoming book on housing projects by Brown and other architects in Camden, 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.

Neave Brown will be presented with the 2018 Royal Gold Medal at a private ceremony at the RIBA on Monday 2 October 2017.

Alexandra Road Housing (Photo courtesy of RIBA)

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