Social Housing Should Win Prizes

Originally published on Written with Lev Bratishenko.

Since 1996, the Stirling Prize has been awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to the building by a British architect that has made ‘the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture’. The Stirling is British architecture’s equivalent of the Booker or Best Picture, an annual ritual performed in public when the shifting values of the industry are distilled into a single work. This publicity is of particular significance for architecture which, unlike cinema or literature, gets popular attention more often due to scandals like the Garden Bridge or disasters like Grenfell.

The Stirling, whose ceremony was sufficiently appealing to be broadcast on national TV until 2011, is generally won by photogenic public-facing buildings with large budgets: museums, galleries and theatres do well; the Gherkin won in 2004. However, in 2019, something unusual happened. The Stirling was won by a social housing project in Norwich…

Originally published on Written with Lev Bratishenko.

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