The quartet of practices is joined by fellow finalists Featherstone Associates, Malcolm Fraser Architects, JM Architects, Proctor and Matthews, Space Craft Architects, S333, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, and Scandinavian firm White Arkitekter AB.
More than 140 practices submitted entries to the contest, which is run by the RIBA's Competitions Office and has the backing of Newcastle City Council, Bridging NewcastleGateshead and English Partnerships.
Speaking about the shortlisted firms, jury panel member Alex Ely said: 'The industry needs to wake up; there are so many talented architects wanting to design mass housing. We were only able to select 12, but there are clearly many more who should also have this opportunity.'
Final judging is in December this year, when six firms will be asked to fully develop their designs.