Gainsford Road

Affordable starter homes on a site with an Arts and Crafts legacy

William Morris Technical School
William Morris Technical School

This project for Pocket Living provides 45 affordable one-bedroom homes for first-time buyers in Walthamstow, meeting the borough’s housing aspirations while making a lasting contribution to the area.

Built on the site of the former William Morris Technical School, the local area’s Arts and Crafts legacy and the collective living model of Warner houses provided rich design inspiration. We overcame the challenge of achieving high density within a low-rise context of typically two-storey terraced houses through a number of carefully considered moves, sensitively sculpting the building’s massing to create a composition articulated with a series of crafted decorative details.

A series of early massing options
A series of early massing options
Design principles
The proposed building line respects the existing street frontage and neighbouring buildings
Articulate the form to create a relationship with the mass of a building on the street corner
Proposed massing extents follow those of the existing building
A considered rhythm of generous and regularly spaced windows
A high-quality shared garden at the core of the scheme
An architecture influenced by local character
Emphasise the shared entrance
Juliet balconies animate the street frontage
Well-designed gardens on the street front

Gort Scott translated our brief into a very successful development which fitted well within its context. The specification of good value materials coupled with superior detailing created an interesting but budget-friendly building. The project exceeded our expectations… a very positive place to own a home.

Angharad Palmer, Head of Design, Pocket Living

Clear and open consultation during design development with both the planning department and local residents garnered support for our high-quality, Mayor’s Design Standard scheme. On a characterful yet unassuming residential street, the new apartment block responds positively to the streetscape by adding active frontage. At ground, an airy entrance offers a generous view through to a courtyard, while the tallest four-storey part of the building is adorned with a rooftop belvedere, giving it unexpected civic presence.

A gently inflected chevron informs a series of precast concrete elements that pick out these features animated by light and shadows that change throughout the day. Their colour matches that of the red brick and mortar to emphasise crisp, modern, sculptural qualities.

The building steps down in height within a generous residents’ courtyard with actively tended allotment planters.
In contrast to the more ornate street front, the rear elevations are deliberately pared back, with simple punched openings.

Efficient and functional layouts are augmented with a sense of community promoted through shared amenities. A large stairwell with benches at the base of an amply lit atrium serves as the main circulation space for chance encounters with neighbours. The courtyard garden provides communal seating areas and allotment planters that were adopted by residents soon after they moved in.

Further information


Walthamstow, London
Project type
Homes and mixed-use
Completed 2018
Floor area


Pocket Living
Gort Scott Team
Jay Gort, Fiona Scott, Andrew Tam, Amy Wong, Fraser Leach-Smith
Boyer (Planning), WT Partnership (QS), Tully De’Ath (Structures), XCO2 (Building Services), JCLA (Landscape), JGA (fire), TPP (Transport), 3cRisk (CDM)
PDR Construction
Dirk Lindner


  • Waltham Forest Design Awards 2021 - Shortlisted
  • Brick Awards 2019 - Shortlisted
  • NLA Awards 2019: Mayor’s Prize - Shortlisted
  • NLA Awards 2019: Housing - Shortlisted
  • RICS London Awards 2019 - Shortlisted
  • AJ Housing Project of the Year 2018 - Shortlisted

Downloads and links

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