eco-conscious estate wins new building prize


The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has awarded the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize for the best new UK building to Goldsmith Street in Norwich, designed by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley.

Goldsmith Street is comprised of almost 100 ultra low-energy homes for Norwich City Council.

In contrast to the surrounding higher-rise flats, Goldsmith Street is arranged in seven terrace blocks, in the Victorian style of the streets of the nearby ‘Golden Triangle’ district.

Rows of two-storey houses are bookended by three-storey flats, each with their own front door, generous lobby space for prams and bikes, and a private balcony. 

Parking has been pushed to the outer edges of the development to prevent car parking from dominating the streets. 

RIBA Stirling Winner 2019 (i)

(Above: Goldsmith Street - a 'modest masterpiece'. Source: RIBA/© Tim Crocker)

Goldsmith Street meets rigorous ‘Passivhaus’ environmental standards – which is highly unusual for a dense, mass housing development.

It is a passive solar scheme, designed to minimise fuel bills for residents (annual energy costs are estimated to be 70% cheaper than for the average household). To maximise solar gain, all homes face south and every wall is over 600mm thick, and the roofs are angled at 15 degrees to ensure each terrace does not block sunlight from homes in the street behind.

Letterboxes are built into external porches, rather than the front doors, to reduce any possibility of draughts; and perforated aluminium ‘brise-soleils’ provide sun shades above the windows and doors.

The 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize judges, 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.

"Goldsmith Street is a ground-breaking project and an outstanding contribution to British architecture."

RIBA Stirling Winner 2019 (ii)

(Above: communal areas and green spaces have been built into the award-winning design. Source: RIBA/©Tim Crocker)