TV architect George Clarke returned to his roots this week to help his home town kick off its 60th birthday celebrations.

George, whose TV shows include George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, was in Washington New Town to launch a special design competition for schoolchildren in the town where he grew up.

The competition helps kick off a year of celebrations being planned to help Washington New Town mark its big birthday next July.

The Northern Echo: TV architect George ClarkeTV architect George Clarke (Image: NORTH NEWS)
Designated a New Town on 24 July 1964, Washington was hailed at the time for its innovative and forward-thinking residential designs for homes, as well as the establishment of long-lasting communities.

In recognition and celebration of this landmark date, George Clarke, his charity MOBIE and Sunderland City Council are inviting young people from schools across Washington to come up with their vision of an innovative residential community for the next 60 years. 

Young people taking part in the competition will be asked to design a 21st-century super sustainable ‘courtyard’ style housing scheme, with houses for all ages designed around a pedestrianised courtyard square - in line with the essential features of the original 1960s plan. 

The Northern Echo: George Clarke with dignitaries from WashingtonGeorge Clarke with dignitaries from Washington (Image: NORTH NEWS)
George Clarke, said: "Home is the most important piece of architecture in our lives. It crafts the way we live, and how we grow as families and communities.

"I have believed this to be so true and important for as long as I can remember, and in many ways inspired by my family home and upbringing in the Washington village of Blackfell and the amazing community that we enjoyed there.

The Northern Echo: George Clarke announcing the competition George Clarke announcing the competition (Image: NORTH NEWS)

"It is an absolute honour and pleasure to be a part of Washington’s 60th Anniversary celebrations and to launch this special design challenge for the young people who live here now.

"This will be our fifteenth student design challenge, especially unique because usually, these are open to everyone, to all schools, colleges and universities wherever you live or study, but this is just for students in Washington.

The Northern Echo: George Clarke kicking off Washington's 60th birthday celebrationsGeorge Clarke kicking off Washington's 60th birthday celebrations (Image: NORTH NEWS)

Mr Clarke added: "We are asking for designs and community master planning ideas for the homes here for the next sixty years. I am launching the challenge today and the closing date for submissions will be in time to judge the entries, announce the winners and present the prizes at Washington’s 60th anniversary celebrations next July.

"From past experience, we are never disappointed and I am truly excited and looking forward to seeing what the students from my home town come up with. 

"Let’s show the rest of the country what young designers in Washington are thinking for their future in this amazing town."

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Councillor Sean Laws, who is chairing the steering group planning the 60th birthday celebrations, added: "As Chair of Washington Area Committee and the Washington 60 steering group I have been very keen to ensure that we mark Washington’s 60th anniversary of being a New Town in a bigger and better way than anything we have done before and pay a fitting tribute to a key part of the City of Sunderland.

"I am delighted George has agreed to be part of the Washington 60 celebrations we are organising and will be delivering a superb project aimed at inspiring the Stephen Holleys and James Steels of the future."

Further details of the celebrations planned for Washington's 60th birthday will be unveiled in the coming months.