The Triangle housing development in Swindon has been given a 2012 RIBA Award by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in recognition of its architectural excellence.
The project – featured in Channel 4s two part documentary Kevin’s Grand Design – also picked up the RIBA South West Sustainability category gong at the prestigious Southern Architecture Awards: The Results event at STEAM, Swindon on Wednesday night.
The Triangle is amongst 59 projects in the UK and Europe which have received RIBA Awards today (50 in the UK and 9 in the rest of the EU). The shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize, for the best building of the year, will be drawn from these RIBA Award winners.
Birmingham-based Glenn Howells Architects designed the project for developers Hab Oakus, a joint project with Green Square Housing Association, which has established itself as an exemplar for low-cost, environmentally responsible, social housing, with higher densities than the client expected (42 homes in all). The houses are a thoughtful re-interpretation of the terrace vernacular, making the most of a limited palette of materials. The terrace is articulated with chimney-like ventilation stacks, well-proportioned windows and the use of gabions to modify the visual impact of the car. The house plans are compact, yet sectional heights are stretched and windowsills dropped, creating homes that feel surprisingly spacious.
The jury said that the balance of public, communal and private spaces is one of the great successes of the project and demonstrates the importance of good public realm design in creating sustainable communities and desirable places to live.
RIBA President Angela Brady said: “For nearly fifty years the RIBA Awards have reflected the changing state of British architecture and revealed emerging design trends. What really stands out is that even in times of austerity, we can still deliver amazingly clever, high quality buildings that reflect the needs of today and enhance our daily lives. The judges were delighted to see so many well considered, crafted and innovative projects, and the use of beautiful materials; these projects are truly exciting and inspiring. The huge range of great buildings will guarantee an exciting Stirling Prize shortlist later in the year and illustrates the value of quality in architecture.”
However some residents who moved into the ground breaking housing development in the summer of 2011 have complained about poor build quality and inadequate problem solving with their new properties. They say dust has been blown into their homes because the passive ventilation system has not been cleaned, leaks have not been repaired and there has been a mouse infestation.
A statement from GreenSquare said: "The design of The Triangle is outstanding and innovative and that’s why the scheme has won so many awards. Its social objectives are also beginning to be realised and are, in the main, successful.
"Kevin McCloud’s company Hab was responsible for driving both the design and the wider community ambitions. The build of the scheme was in the hands of the construction team, appointed through a design and build process. For legal reasons we cannot go into detail about the position with the contractor.
"But it is hugely upsetting that residents have had to bear the brunt of the problems and we can confirm that GreenSquare, which is responsible for maintenance and repairs, has appointed a full time surveyor and specialist tradesmen, specifically to respond to – and resolve – issues raised by residents."
Right, Kevin McCloud meeting residents in the making of his 2011 documentary Kevin’s Grand Design