Eco-friendly council estate in Norwich wins RIBA Stirling Prize

Photography: Tim Crocker/RIBA/PA and Peter Cook
Photography: Tim Crocker/RIBA/PA and Peter Cook

An eco-friendly council estate in Norwich has won this year’s  RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture; the first time that a social housing scheme has won the prize.

Described by the judges as a “modest masterpiece”, Goldsmith Street, by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley, scooped the accolade, awarded to the UK’s best new building.

The project’s streets, pathways and communal areas feature paving from paving and walling supplier, Tobermore , selected by  landscape architect, BBUK Studio.

Harriet Bourne, director at BBUK, commented: “We are delighted with our specification of Tobermore’s paving for the hard-landscaping at Goldsmith Street. Their eco-friendly credentials made them the perfect choice for this innovative project.’’

The architects took inspiration from Victorian terraced houses, with streets created instead of apartment blocks. To encourage a ‘community spirit’, the back gardens of the central terraces share a secure play area for children and a walkway for communal gatherings runs through the middle of the estate, which is made up of almost 100 highly energy-efficient homes meeting Passivhaus standards.

Tobermore owner/managing director, David Henderson, said: “Tobermore would like to congratulate Mikhail Riches Architects, Norwich City Council and BBUK Studio and for Goldsmith Street. Tobermore is incredibly proud to have been chosen as the paving supplier for this ground-breaking project.”

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 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.”