‘Passivhaus’ council housing scheme could show the way for eco-friendly building

Norwich Council has become the first ever council to claim the RIBA Stirling Prize for its revolutionary, eco-friendly council housing scheme, Goldsmith Street.

The Advantage Structural Warranty team have written a lot about the future of eco-friendly architecture and much about the need for more council housing, but rarely in the same article. However, all of that is about to change, as Norwich Council has become the first ever council to claim the RIBA Stirling Prize for its revolutionary, eco-friendly council housing scheme, Goldsmith Street.

As reported by Buy Association: The prestigious prize, which was awarded by a jury from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), praised the 105-home development as a ‘modest masterpiece’.

Goldsmith Street is the largest UK development to meet the demanding Passivhaus international energy performance standard. The ultra-low energy housing project, which aims to use very little energy for heating and cooling, will result in the average home’s fuel bill reducing by up to 70%.

The Norwich scheme took a decade to complete at a cost of £14.7 million and is the creation of Mikhail Riches along with Cathy Hawley.

Accepting the award, architect David Mikhail thanked the residents of Goldsmith Street and called on the government to do more to help architects tackle the climate crisis.

Advantage, experts in structural defects warranty, noted that Goldsmith Street has been hailed a worthy winner of the prestigious RIBA Stirling prize by architects and journalists alike with the Observer stating:

“The award of the Stirling prize to Goldsmith Street in Norwich has rightly been hailed as an affirmation of the essential role of well-designed council housing in modern Britain. For the prize, given by the Royal Institute of British Architects to the best building project of the year, has gone to an enclave of homes for rent at affordable prices, with secure tenancies, built by Norwich city council.”

It’s an encouraging reminder that while we tend to focus on the need to increase the number of affordable homes in the UK, the issue of quality and sustainability remains key – as Advantage has noted in the past, it’s not just a numbers game.

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.”

We’ll be back soon with more on the future of council housing, and news from the construction sector. Also, if you’d like to know more about the work we do with Housing Associations, please visit this page.

Interested in learning more? Contact one of our structural warranty experts today to discuss your requirements on 0845 900 3969

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