Social Housing Project Wins RIBA Stirling Prize

John Hill
8. October 2019
Photo: Tim Crocker, courtesy of RIBA

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced that Goldsmith Street by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley has won the 2019 Stirling Prize, making it "the UK’s best new building."

Goldsmith Street, a social housing project in Norwich, England, about 100 miles northeast of London, was described as a "modest masterpiece" by the jury of the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize. The project developed by Norwich City Council consists of 105 homes built to Passivhaus standards and shared landscaping between the rows of houses. Most of the homes are two stories, set into four parallel rows that are spaced 14 meters apart to ensure direct southern sunlight during the winter months. The three-story homes located at the ends of the east-west rows (photo at top) give the modest project its most striking architectural flourishes. Car access is limited in favor of a central landscape spine and secured "ginnels" at the backs of a couple rows; these open spaces provide communal areas for children to play and make the project very family-friendly.

2019 RIBA Stirling Prize jury, 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.

Annalie Riches, founding director of Mikhail Riches, presented Goldsmith Street at a RIBA Stirling Stories event that took place a week before the announcement, alongside the other five Stirling Prize finalists. Watch the video of the event (Riches presents from 19:00 to 29:00) to learn more about the project and see how a previous social housing project by the architects informed the design of the latest RIBA Stirling Prize winner.

Recent RIBA Stirling Prize winners:

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