The RIBA Stirling Prize, the biggest prize in UK architecture, has been awarded to a housing scheme led by an architect who recently studied at the University of Bath.
James Turner led the development of Goldsmith Street in Norwich, which last week was awarded the Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
The project, which is the UK’s largest development of homes that meet the PassivHaus energy efficiency standard, was also awarded The Neave Brown Award for Housing, which recognises the best new example of affordable housing in the UK.
James, 32 , led the project team at the Mikhail Riches practice where he works as an Associate architect. He completed undergraduate and Masters architecture degrees and a professional diploma at Bath between 2005 and 2013.
Goldsmith Street is comprised of 105 new low-rise homes (45 houses and 60 flats) designed to maximise energy efficiency through a range of measures including roofs angled to maximise natural warmth while avoiding glaring sunlight in the summer. All of the properties will be socially rented by the project’s client, Norwich City Council.
James said of the win: “It’s amazing to be involved in winning such a prestigious award as the Stirling Prize, particularly because it’s the first time a social housing scheme has won it.
“This is a relatively modest scheme by comparison to some of the showstopper buildings that have previously won, so the underlying message that low-cost housing can be architecturally ambitious is important too.
“I’ve overseen several elements of the project, but obviously it’s a huge team effort that has involved many people. We’re all delighted to be recognised in this way and I feel very lucky.”
James led in the delivery of the project post planning and was heavily involved in the detailed design, selecting materials used, liaising with the client and acting as contract administrator for the project.
Professor Alex Wright, Head of Architecture at the University of Bath, taught James during his studies. He said: “Everyone in the Department is delighted for James. It’s wonderful to see one of our recent graduates making such a significant contribution to this year’s Stirling Prize winning project.
“James was an outstanding student during his studies and a pleasure to have in the Department. I’m entirely unsurprised to see him making such a great start in his career and I’m sure it’s the first of many awards his buildings will win.”
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.”
In addition to the recent wins, the development has already won regional RIBA awards and won the Good Neighbour Award and was the Overall Winner at the Housing Design Awards 2019.
James will soon be passing on his knowledge and early-career advice to current Bath students, with plans for a return visit to the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering already in progress.
Bath's architecture courses were recently named the best in the UK in the Times Good University Guide.