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One hundred highly energy-efficient North City Council houses are designed by Mikhail Riches to minimise fuel bills for residents. The two-storey houses, bookended by three-storey flats, all face south and are shaped specifically to catch the sun in the winter and are shielded by perforated aluminium ‘brise-soleils’ in the summer.
The project gets high acclaim for its impeccable detailing on a low budget. The smallest details have been taken into account: the letterboxes are integrated into the external porches to reduce any possible heat loss via draughts. To achieve Passivhaus certification the windows had to be smaller then usual. To counteract the reduced size they circled the windows with a set-back to give an enlarged effect.
The architects won the competition in 2008 and have worked for over a decade on refining the project up to the level of a highly sustainable community. One of the main achievements is that the annual energy costs are estimated to be 70% cheaper than an average household. Goldsmith Street will be the largest social housing scheme to achieve Passivhaus in the UK once they receive the certification.
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The project for Norwich City Council is made up of almost 100 highly energy-efficient homes. Rows of two-storey houses are bookended by three-storey flats, each with their own front door, generous lobby space for prams and bikes, and a private balcony. The back gardens of the central terraces share a secure ‘ginnel’ (alleyway) for children to play together, and a wide landscaped walkway for the community runs directly through the middle of the estate. Parking has been pushed to Goldsmith Street’s outer edges, making sure that people, not cars, own the streets.
Goldsmith Street also meets rigorous Passivhaus standards – remarkable for a dense, mass housing development. It is a passive solar scheme, designed to minimise fuel bills for residents: annual energy costs are estimated to be 70% cheaper than for the average household. Even the smallest details have been thought about: letterboxes are built into external porches to reduce any possibility of draughts, and perforated aluminium ‘brise-soleils’ provide sun shades above windows and doors.
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."