Housing

Social housing in Norwich could win a coveted architecture prize next week

The 105 energy efficient homes for social rent on Goldsmith Street tackle fuel poverty and are up for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ prestigious Stirling Prize

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This time next week a street of social housing in Norwich could be celebrating victory in one of the UK’s most prestigious architecture prizes.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) will be naming the winner of their Stirling Prize on October 8 and the fuel poverty-tackling homes on Goldsmith Street are vying for victory.

Architects Mikhail Riches and Cathy Hawley designed the 105 energy-efficient social rent homes to Passivhaus standards for Norwich City Council.

Goldsmith Street in Norwich has been held up as a good example of social housing to tackle the housing crisis and end homelessness
Goldsmith-Street_RIBA_Tim-Crocker
The social rent homes in Goldsmith Street even have letterboxes on garden walls rather than on front doors to save energy. Image: RIBA / Tim Crocker

Each house features smart innovations like removing the letterbox from the front door and placing it in garden walls instead to prevent energy from being wasted.

The suburban street also shuns cars and features play spaces for children while front doors also face each other in a bid to maximise the social impact on offer.

“As a council we have been interested in building new social housing for a long time.” Said Laura Mcgillivray. “The properties we have here are all built to Passivhaus house standards and that has really lowered the energy bills.”

The nomination for the award is recognition that building more social rent homes is a crucial way to tackle Britain’s housing crisis with the social rent sector in particular being decimated in recent years.

But to get the nod for the Stirling Prize for Britain’s best new building, Goldsmith Street will be up against stiff competition.

A Scottish whisky distillery with a grass-covered roof, London Bridge Station, a rural opera house with a 17th-century stable block, an experimental carbon neutral house made of cork in Berkshire and a contemporary Yorkshire art gallery are all in the running.

“The RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist epitomises the enviable global reputation of UK architecture,” said RIBA President Ben Derbyshire when the nominees were announced.

“These six buildings could hardly be more diverse in typology and scale. But what they have in common – ground-breaking innovation, extraordinary creativity and the highest quality materials and detailing – sets them apart.”

Images: RIBA/Tim Crocker

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