Tom Atkinson’s Villa Trio wins ‘Spanning Suburbia’ competition | IG Lintels

In the rush to build as many houses as possible to meet current needs it seems style and great design have been overlooked. So we were delighted with the response to our IG/RIBAJ competition, ‘Spanning Suburbia’, in which we asked architects to design suburban houses for the future. We were looking for a 21st century family home, using IG brick slip feature lintels to inject creative elements while also being energy efficient, functional and stylish. The ambition and imagination of some of the entrants was truly impressive. After much discussion – and highly commended awards to several architects, the judges declared ‘Villa Trio’ by Tom Atkinson the winner.

Atkinson designed a pair of semi-detached houses, resting on the use of arched lintels. The design, inspired in part by French medieval town squares, combines historic references with modern requirements. The defining feature is the series of arched spaces which can be adapted to future uses – garage, living accommodation or outdoor living. The design allows homeowners flexibility depending on lifestyle while also addressing the issues of density, diversity and space. Villa Trio’s footprint is small, with space gained vertically. ‘A new Suburban Villa must be adaptable, it must be grand and it must also be compact,’ explains Atkinson. ‘Villa Trio enables different sized houses to sit next to each other creating varied tenure possibilities. The design lends itself to a repeatable variety of layouts and is an attempt to counter suburban sprawl.’

For more information on the winning design and the highly commended entries visit

Commended Projects

Jan – Carlos Kucharek

Senior editor, RIBA Journal

Gillian Horn

Partner, Penoyre & Prasad

Taro Tsuruta

Tsuruta Architects

Sandra Youhhana

Co-founder, You+Pea

Derrick McFarland

Managing director, IG Lintels