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Housing

These innovative affordable housing projects are up for a prestigious architecture award

“Affordable” homes built around a primary school and on a post-war housing estate’s parking spaces are among the nominees for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Neave Brown Award.

While it is widely acknowledged that the UK is not building enough affordable homes, there is some innovation going on in the sector.

Among the projects nominated for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) prestigious Neave Brown Award for Housing are a development built around a primary school and new homes in an estate’s bin stores.

RIBA announced the three-strong shortlist for the 2022 award on Thursday. The award, named in honour of modernist architect Neave Brown, celebrates the best new examples of affordable housing across the country.

It’s worth noting here that the definition of affordable housing is wide-ranging, and can include shared-ownership, rents at 80 per cent of market value and living rent, as well as social housing.

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The “immense sculptural pink brute” building housing Hackney New Primary School and 69 affordable homes will take on Kiln Place in Camden, which slotted 15 homes into a post-war housing estate by regenerating parking spaces, plant rooms and bin stores.

The pair will take on a rural development in Lovedon Fields, Winchester, for the sought-after prize with the winner set to be announced on October 13 alongside RIBA’s flagship Stirling Prize.

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“High-rise, low-rise, urban, rural, existing and new – these three schemes realise thoughtful, affordable housing within complex locations,” RIBA president Simon Allford.

“Innovative and purposeful, they also enhance and enrich their neighbouring spaces and communities. They set a benchmark – for clients, contractors and architects – for better UK housing.”  

affordable housing
The Hackney development was described as an “immense sculptural pink brute” by RIBA’s jury. Image: Nick Kane
affordable housing Hackney New Primary School
The east London project won prize for “challenging educational and environmental norms”. Image: Nick Kane

The Hackney development, which was completed in 2020 based on architect Henley Halebrown’s designs, is also up for the Stirling Prize.

It features 68 homes run by Dolphin Living at “intermediate rent” for Londoners on low to middle incomes who are finding it increasingly difficult to find a quality homes close to their workplace.

RIBA’s jury, made up of housing experts, architects and local authority housing representatives, praised how the project combines a primary school and the new housing block in a single, tight urban site.

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The east London project “challenges educational and environmental norms” and allows current residents to “maximise the benefits of living in the building”.

Another space-maximising project in London will offer competition.

Kiln Place in Camden, developed by Peter Barber Architects, impressed RIBA’s jury with its ability to turn the “least desirable” parts of a post-war housing estate into family homes. It contains 15 homes, seven of which will be for social rent.

affordable housing Kiln Place
Kiln Place in Camden attracted attention for squeezing 15 homes into parts of an old housing estate. Image: Morley von Sternberg

The properties – built in a car park, a disused plant room and a bin store – captured the attention for their design as well as “high energy standards”. The jury also commented on how the homes created benefits for existing residents, such as improving access and the creation of a roof terrace for an existing flat.

The jury added: “New trees and planting, as well as increased access to the open space, significantly improve the biodiversity and accessibility of the estate.”

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The final contender moves out of London to rural Winchester.

Lovedon Fields, from John Pardey Architects, brings together 50 apartments, terraces and detached houses alongside new allotment plots, bike trails, footpaths, play parks and accessible grassland.

affordable housing Lovedon Fields Winchester
Lovedon Fields’ combination of different homes in a rural setting won over RIBA’s jury. Image: Jim Stephenson

The mixed tenure development features 40 per cent affordable or shared ownership homes.

The jury said the project shows that “in the hard-nosed commercial context of mass housing, it is no mean feat to have achieved as much as it has”.

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