The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced today that U.S.-born architect Neave Brown has won the 2018 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture. Brown will be officially presented with the medal at a private ceremony in October. The medal is U.K.’s highest honor for architecture, recognizes a lifetime of achievements, and is "given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture," according to RIBA.
Brown—dubbed a "public housing pioneer," by RIBA—is currently the only living architect to have their entire U.K. portfolio listed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, according to RIBA. The modernist architect is best known not only for the structures he designed, but for how these buildings aimed to create community for their inhabitants. Brown's work includes the Alexandra Road Estate (also known as the Alexandra and Ainsworth estate, 1979), a Grade II-listed brutalist council housing estate with 8 stories of apartments stacked atop one another, giving it a stadium-like appearance; 22-32 Winscombe Street (1965), a row of five terraced homes in Dartmouth Park, North London; and Dunboyne Road Estate (1975), a London unit comprised of 71 maisonettes and apartments.
Of Browns work, RIBA president and chair of the selection committee, Ben Derbyshire, said: "Neave’s contribution to the development of modern British housing is profound, inspiring to architects, local authorities and those who have benefited from living in one of his outstanding projects. His pioneering ideas firmly placed the community at the heart of each of his developments, giving residents shared gardens, their own front door, innovative flexible living spaces and private outside space for every home."
Derbyshire also took the opportunity to comment on the U.K.'s ongoing housing crisis, citing Brown's work as prime examples of what must be achieved across the country in order to “build a new generation of well-designed, affordable and sustainable homes that meet the needs of the millions of people currently failed by the housing market."
The 2017 RIBA Royal Gold Medal selection committee was led by RIBA president Ben Derbyshire, and included Edward Cullinan, former Royal Gold Medal recipient; Canny Ash, architect; Sarah Wigglesworth, architect; and Lady Jill Ritblat, patron of the arts