The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) recently announced the 2008 winners of the prestigious Stirling Prize and Manser Medal. The RIBA Stirling Prize, in association with The Architects' Journal, is awarded annually to the architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year. The Manser Medal for Houses and Housing is awarded for the best one-off house designed by an architect in the United Kingdom; all RIBA Award-winning houses and housing schemes in the country are considered for the honor.
The winner of the 13th annual Stirling Prize is Accordia Brooklands Avenue, a multifamily housing scheme in Cambridge designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects, and Maccreanor Lavington Architects. One Stirling Prize judge called Accordia "high-density housing at its very best, demonstrating that volume house builders can deliver high-quality architecture—and that as a result they can improve their own bottom line." The three architectural firms collaborated with each other as well as with the developer, contractor, and client to transform a former brownfield site into a well-organized housing development that balances private and public exterior spaces, offers ample outdoor common spaces while freeing residents from garden upkeep, and provides an assortment of house layouts with varying aesthetics. Off-site fabrication of structures helped increase the speed of construction and reduce waste.
The 2008 winner of the Manser Medal for Houses and Housing is Oxley Woods in Milton Keynes, designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. According to Manser Medal judges, Oxley Woods is a successful attempt at full-fledged innovation within the conventional house building market, setting out a method for achieving high environmental standards in quality house building where design comes first. The developer required a rigid, conventional site layout, which the architects juxtaposed with an unconventional housing design. The result of an initiative to promote off-site construction at low cost, the first house in the 145-unit development was erected in three days using mass-produced prefabricated parts. The project incorporates high-tech features, delivers high energy performance, and offers a variety of house designs and estate layouts, as well as a choice of cladding materials.