Putting the cherry on the cake of what was a very successful 2019 for Mikhail Riches, the company was named winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize and the inaugural Neave Brown Award for its Goldsmith Street social housing scheme, the largest Passivhaus housing scheme in the UK.
Emulating the sought-after 19th Century ‘Golden Triangle’ nearby, Mikhail Riches has reintroduced terraced streets, organised around principles of sustainability, where terraces are laid out with a separation of only 14m, Goldsmith Street demonstrates how to do sustainable high density living at low scale. It also provides high quality streetscape and amenity spaces, providing a mix of 45 houses and 60 flats. Flats are designed with no common parts, with every dwelling having its own front door at street level, promoting a sense of ownership and identity for each flat, all emphasised by 16 different front door colours.
This streetscape and landscape design aims to promote safe small children’s play and provide site wide ecological enhancement, with two landscaped play areas onsite and wider landscape improvements to knit the scheme into its context beyond the site boundary. A reinterpretation of a traditional ‘ginnel’ runs through the centre of the scheme, morphing into a secure shared communal garden accessible to residents living in adjacent blocks; this aims to encourage a sense of community and provide a safe, overlooked place for small children’s play.
The scheme has been built under a traditional contract with Mikhail Riches acting as Contract Administrator throughout the build, for a budget of £185/ft2.
“This is exactly the sort of development we are looking for…it all hangs together to show that it is possible to create dense housing, on a gentle basis, that is both beautiful and liveable and human in scale,” said Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Kit Malthouse (2018-2019) at the Housing Design Awards 2019.
The project is a culmination of 11 years’ commitment and courage by Mikhail Riches’ client, Norwich City Council, and the development of a high quality supply chain that included the likes of Crest, which provided the brick types and roofing tiles for the project.
Mikhail Riches was understandably thrilled to see a 100% social housing scheme win the RIBA Stirling Prize and the inaugural Neave Brown Award for Housing, particularly as it works so hard to make beautiful architecture that is socially and environmentally conscious. Here it had a client that pushed it further to achieve Certified Passivhaus at scale.
(images credit: Tim Crocker)