Goldsmith Street: Passivhaus development wins Stirling Prize 2019

When they received the keys for their new homes, the residents of Goldsmith Street probably never expected their new development to achieve global fame. And yet that is exactly what has happened at this Passivhaus development in Norwich. On behalf of the city council, London-based architects Mikhail Riches and Cathy Hawley designed and built the Goldsmith Street social housing development, which has a total of 100 Passivhaus homes.

The residential estate recently won the 2019 Stirling Prize – Britain’s largest architecture prize, which has been awarded annually since 1996 by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The win is a first for social housing: No other publicly funded residential project has ever been awarded the prize.

Street in a residential area in England.

Goldsmith Street: Making community a top priority

Goldsmith Street has 45 houses and 60 apartments, distributed across four rows on a site of around one hectare. The development is modelled on the nearby Victorian streets and also draws inspiration from the residential planning practices seen in small Dutch cities.

The two-storey houses have colourful front doors, large dining kitchens and private patio areas, while the apartments each have their own balcony.

The architects included shared spaces in the design of the development to encourage a sense of community, with lots of green space, seating and areas for children to play. The narrow streets serve to naturally calm vehicle traffic.

Garden in a residential area in England.

Britain’s largest Passivhaus development

All of the buildings on Goldsmith Street satisfy the current Passivhaus standard and were built to a strict specification – which is remarkable for such a dense, mass housing development, according to the jury. All houses are fitted with solar panels to reduce energy bills. Residents are expected to save up to 70 percent on their energy bills compared to average figures for other households; heating each home should cost no more than 170 euros a year.

To maximise the warming effects of the sun, all of the homes are south-facing. The architects also designed a 15-degree angle into the roof so that all of the homes benefit from sun on their patios. A 60-centimetre layer of facade insulation, ventilation systems with heat recovery and triple-glazed windows all help to keep heat in.

House entrances in a residential area in England.

Located close to the city centre, the new development marks a step away from the typical apartment blocks in the immediate vicinity. For RIBA chairman Alan Jones, Goldsmith Street is a beacon of hope:

The project brings social housing and eco-friendly construction together in a way that has never been seen before. It is a pioneering model that other local authorities across the UK and the world can follow.

Want to find out more about this highly praised project in the UK? Check out this video to get a feel for life in Goldsmith Street.

Architecture Sustainability

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