Advertisement
Housing

Fuel poverty-tackling social housing scoops top UK architecture prize

Goldsmith Street in Norwich has become the first council house project to win RIBA’s Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building. Judges say they should become “the norm for all council housing”

The eco-friendly sustainable social housing on Goldsmith Street in Norwich has won the Royal Institute of British Architects’ coveted Stirling Prize – a first for council housing.

Last week we told you that the Norwich City Council-led project was up for the gong after judges were impressed by the smart innovations that boosted sustainability and slashed energy bills.

But the 93 two-storey homes and three-storey flats were honoured at last night’s RIBA Awards ceremony as they were hailed for showing what should “be the norm for all council housing”.

“Goldsmith Street is a modest masterpiece,” said the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize judges, chaired by Julia Barfield. “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.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Properties on the street have been built to meet rigorous Passivhaus standards – which provide a high level of occupant comfort while using very little energy for heating and cooling – which was judged to be “remarkable” for a dense, mass housing development.

The commitment to tackling fuel poverty means that fuel bills are minimised for residents through small details like removing letterboxes to reduce draughts and placing them on the walls of external porches. The result sees residents paying 70 per cent less on their energy bills than the average household.

The £17 million project is courtesy of architect Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley with the backing of Norwich City Council.

“This is an incredibly proud moment for Norwich, our strong history of building social housing and our ambitions to raise environmental standards,” said Councillor Gail Harris, the local authority’s cabinet member for social housing.

“Winning this prestigious award shows that it is possible to build fantastic new council homes, despite the challenges posed by central government cuts and restrictions around Right to Buy receipts.

“We are incredibly grateful to Mikhail Riches for sharing our vision for these homes, and helping us to create a sustainable community for our residents.”

Images: RIBA/Tim Crocker

Advertisement

Bigger Issues need bigger solutions

Big Issue Group is creating new solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunities for the 14.5 million people living in poverty to earn, learn and thrive. Big Issue Group brings together our media and investment initiatives as well as a diverse and pioneering range of new solutions, all of which aim to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity. Learn how you can change lives today.

Recommended for you

Read All
Sadiq Khan's Right to Buy-back scheme leads to return of 1,500 council homes
Right to Buy

Sadiq Khan's Right to Buy-back scheme leads to return of 1,500 council homes

This evaporating pavement art is highlighting how heatwaves are a threat to rough sleepers
UK HEATWAVE

This evaporating pavement art is highlighting how heatwaves are a threat to rough sleepers

People with experience of homelessness are being given jobs in the NHS to help others
Homelessness

People with experience of homelessness are being given jobs in the NHS to help others

Buying a home in the UK is more expensive than ever. When will house prices go down?
House Prices

Buying a home in the UK is more expensive than ever. When will house prices go down?

Most Popular

Read All
All the places where kids can eat free during the summer holidays
1.

All the places where kids can eat free during the summer holidays

This Twitter bot is exposing celebrities taking three-minute private jet flights
2.

This Twitter bot is exposing celebrities taking three-minute private jet flights

Will free school meals and vouchers be offered over the summer holidays?
3.

Will free school meals and vouchers be offered over the summer holidays?

Estate agents caught saying they don't rent homes to people on benefits
4.

Estate agents caught saying they don't rent homes to people on benefits

Keep up to date with the Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.