Belfast Telegraph

Norwich council estate scoops top architecture prize

Goldsmith Street has been named the UK’s best new building by the Royal Institute Of British Architects (Riba).

Goldsmith Street in Norwich, a housing estate comprised of almost 100 ‘ultra low-energy homes’, has won a top architecture award (Tim Crocker/PA)
Goldsmith Street in Norwich, a housing estate comprised of almost 100 ‘ultra low-energy homes’, has won a top architecture award (Tim Crocker/PA)

By Keiran Southern, PA

A Norwich housing estate comprised of almost 100 “ultra low-energy homes” has won a top architecture award.

The city’s Goldsmith Street has been named the UK’s best new building by the Royal Institute Of British Architects (Riba).

It won the annual Stirling Prize ahead of a field of nominees including a house built from cork in Berkshire and a “hi-tech and futuristic” distillery in Scotland.

This is proper social housing, over 10 years in the making, delivered by an ambitious and thoughtful council Riba judges

Goldsmith Street, built for Norwich City Council, was praised by judges for its design ensuring “people own the streets, not their cars”.

The development is arranged in seven terraced blocks – modelled on nearby Victorian streets – and features rows of two-storey houses bookended by three-storey flats.

Parking has been pushed to the outer edges of the estate, while a wide landscaped walkway for communal gatherings runs through the site..

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A home in Berkshire made almost entirely from plant-based materials was among the nominees for the Riba Stirling Prize (Ricky Jones/Riba/PA)

Judges, chaired by Julia Barfield, praised its eco-friendly design.

They said: “Goldsmith Street is a modest masterpiece. It is high-quality architecture in its purest, most environmentally and socially-conscious form.

“Behind restrained creamy facades are impeccably-detailed, highly sustainable homes – an incredible achievement for a development of this scale.

“This is proper social housing, over 10 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.”

David Mikhail, of Goldsmith Street designers Mikhail Riches, said: “Goldsmith Street’s success is testimony to the vision and leadership of Norwich City Council. We thank them for their commitment and support. They believe that council housing tenants deserve great design.

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The Weston at Yorkshire’s Sculpture Park was nominated for the Riba Stirling Prize (Mikael Olsson/Riba/PA)

“It is not often we are appointed to work on a project so closely aligned with what we believe matters; buildings people love which are low impact.

“We hope other local authorities will be inspired to deliver beautiful homes for people who need them the most, and at an affordable price.

“To all the residents – thank you for sharing your enthusiasm, and your homes, with everyone who has visited.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “A huge congratulations to Norwich City Council for their winning Goldsmith Street development.

“I want to see the delivery of better-designed homes, especially social housing like the gold standard set in Norwich, and expect more developers to follow the example set by the project’s architects Mikhail Riches and Cathy Hawley.”

The shortlist for the 2019 Stirling Prize also included Cork House in Berkshire, London Bridge station, Nevill Holt Opera in Leicestershire, The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience in Moray, and The Weston in Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

PA

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