Studio MUTT wins Townhouse of the Future competition

The Liverpool architecture practice has triumphed in a contest to design a post-Covid townhouse held by the city region’s combined authority.

The competition was held as part of the inaugural Liverpool Architecture Festival and attracted 52 entries.

The judging panel was led by Stirling Prize-winning architect and Liverpool City Region design champion Paul Monaghan, with Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud and the government’s chief planning officer Joanna Averley also numbered among the judges.

The competition – to find a realistic design for an energy-efficient family home that could be taken forward as a deliverable scheme – was open to architects and students across the UK and offers a first prize of £4,000 with £1,000 for the runner-up.

First prize went to Studio MUTT in collaboration with Solidspace for their Back to Life design, a “classic interpretation of the terrace house and mews”.

Studio MUTT told Place North West that their proposal tried to replicate the urban grain and scale of Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter, a good example of human-scale, civic place, with a tight, private mews condition at the centre.

The firm said: “A streets-first approach prioritises pedestrians and human spaces, while still providing for the needs of the city – retaining a strong street edge, familiar urban grain, defined rhythm and a robust, characterful material palette. This efficient yet joyful use of land generates a net density of 75 homes per hectare.


Sustainability detailing in the winning design. Credit: Studio MUTT and Solidspace

“The home itself is arranged around a split section, making smaller rooms feel bigger by ‘borrowing’ space from other rooms to maximise the feeling of generous volume, and providing a flexibility in the layout and use of the rooms in the home.”

The proposals use modern methods of construction, using digital fabrication techniques to limit waste, maximise quality, save time on site and ultimately save costs and natural resources.

Steve Rotheram, metro mayor for the Liverpool City Region, said: “The pandemic has seen a massive – and maybe lasting – change to the we way live our lives and view our homes. Throughout lockdown our homes became a myriad of different things: offices, gyms, bakeries, and a whole other world of possibilities.

“We launched the Townhouse competition to channel those new possibilities into a vision for the future. We challenged contestants to think about the best way to design the family home of the future, incorporating the new normal into a space that could also be a great place to live too.

“It’s fantastic to see a local firm crowned as the winners. Our region has historically been home to some stunning architecture and radical innovations in housing, often setting the standards for others to follow.”

Monaghan, a founding partner of sponsor Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, said: “This has been the perfect opportunity for us all to think about how the last 18 months have changed our perception of home.

“We have had a really breathtaking response to the competition, with really innovative solutions for creating hybrid spaces, addressing the climate crisis and nods to the rich architectural heritage of our city region.”

Completing the judging panel were Plus Dane’s former chief executive Barbara Spicer, James Soane, director of Project Orange Architecture, Hazel Rounding, director of Shedkm and Lifa Zvimbande, regional director of RIBA North West.

The townhouse competition launched in August. Liverpool Architecture Festival opened on October 4 at the Liverpool Royal Court Theatre.


Outdoor space in the design’s mews view. Credit: Studio MUTT and Solidspace

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Liverpool needs an identifiable townhouse design , especially for the inner districts as a means of recreating the glorious streets and houses of old. There has been far too much laziness and thoughtlessness in throwing up inappropriate suburban ,box type housing with wasteful front gardens, when all that is required is a decent-sized rear town garden.
We have some great housing in Liverpool but they are often overlooked because they have the alleyway at the back, if only some way could be found to remove the alleys and allocate the space to the house owners.
Hopefully the city mayor and city region mayor will see the benefits of adopting and recommending these new designs to developers.

By Anonymous

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