Architect’s versatile solution wins David Wilson Homes’ eScape competition – and will soon be built in Kent

PCKO Architects has won the David Wilson Homes eScape housing design competition to create a fresh model for a townhouse.

The results were announced this week in central London at the Futures Home convention, which was sponsored by Building. The contest attracted nearly 650 practices. It was promoted by David Wilson Homes in association with Design for Homes and the Wood for Good campaign.

PCKO was chosen from a shortlist of three by a panel of judges including interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and English Partnerships strategy director Trevor Beattie.
PKCO created a new model for the townhouse with its design of two- or three-storey homes all with a central atrium.

PCKO’s design addressed a central problem of the conventional townhouse: the shortage of space on the ground floor, which often necessitates part of the living space being pushed up to the first-floor.

The PCKO solution was to have the open-plan living space at ground floor extended and given added visual impact and daylight by the incorporation of a double height atrium, which it called a “light court”.

On the first floor two bedrooms were located on either side of the “light court”. A further bedroom was sited above one of the first-floor bedrooms.

The wow-factor of the light court and the potential to create varied street scenes, by fronting roads with either two-storey or three-storey section of the house convinced the judging panel.

“Townhouses tend to have more space in total, but less space per floor,” said David Birkbeck, chief executive of Design for Homes. “This design overcomes that by offering sensational spaces on the first two floors.”

Llewelyn-Bowen added: “Buyers often criticise new homes for their low ceilings and dark rooms. This design refutes that, and offers a contemporary romanticism with its tower and courtyard.”

David Wilson Homes has agreed to build townhouses using the winning design. Group development director James Wilson said that runners-up Cole Thompson and Rider Sale also impressed the judges.

The housebuilder will work with PCKO in Sittingbourne, Kent. The houses will be built using modern methods, including timber frame and roof cassette systems. “The winning design demonstrates that simple elements can be put together to create exciting architecture,” said Charles Trevor, managing director of Wood for Good.