With an extensive portfolio of completed residential projects throughout East London and North East London over more than a decade, we at Scenario Architecture see this part of London as our backyard. Our clients have made us the East London architects of choice: changing East London’s architectural landscape house by house.
We established Scenario back in 2007 with a vision to develop a uniquely collaborative architecture. We always take a considered approach to our clients’ needs and desires, placing their aspirations for a new, architect-designed space in high definition. The clients’ needs are the main drivers of our design process.
A beautiful, highly functional home is the product of a deep understanding and precise analysis of each client’s unique lifestyle – and that shows in everything we do. Scenario’s tailor-made homes tell the story of each owner – not the architects.
Our landmark project Scenario House, located in Stoke Newington, London, was covered widely by the media and shortlisted for several prestigious architecture awards – including the 2018 RIBA London Awards. It demonstrates our successful approach to domestic architecture projects.
Your East London project
If you’re considering a residential architectural project in East London or North East London, we’re here to help, whether it’s a renovation, extension or new-build.
We’ve put together a brief illustrated overview to help you understand each stage of the design process, whether you’re planning a home extension, renovation or new-build in East London or North East London.
Most architecture projects in London require planning permission from the local council. With our successful record securing planning permission on behalf of our clients, we can claim home advantage across all of East and North East London.
To help you understand everything it takes to obtain planning permission in London, we’ve created this helpful guide. Download it below.
Discover if your architect has had success steering planning applications through your local council. Visit the “planning applications” page of your council’s website and enter the architect’s name in the search criteria.
Scenario is an established architecture practice focusing on contemporary residential design. We take on projects of every scale and scope, from home refurbishment, renovation and expansions to new-builds.
Working with Scenario Architecture
Scenario Architecture is a boutique architecture studio focused on high-end residential projects in and around London. We tackle domestic projects of every scale and complexity – from interior alterations and refurbishments to full renovations and new-builds – through our bespoke architecture service.
Our experienced and highly skilled team can take you step-by-step through the challenge of designing your new space. We’ll collaborate closely with you from the initial drawings and planning through tender and construction to the successful completion of your project. On time and on budget.
Scenario Architecture is a RIBA Chartered Practice. We always comply with the strict criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects, covering insurance, health and safety and quality-management systems.
Early adopters of the latest technology, we use 3D design and visualisation tools as a standard for all projects. Our experience shows that real-time visualisations and virtual reality are efficient tools for choosing finishes, fixtures and fittings, and simulating natural light.
We use 3D building information modelling (BIM) technology to produce reliable construction information, so every piece of data comes from an accurate, coordinated 3D model. Using this cutting-edge technology collaboratively with our consultants and contractors is proven to save our clients time and money.
A Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) case study featuring a Scenario project demonstrates the great benefits of this advanced technology for domestic architecture.
In our client's words
Great ideas and vision to help with our substantial improvement of a Victorian terrace. In our experience Scenario's method prioritises the final result. That may mean more professional fees or higher quotes from contractors, as they understand the exact requirements.
Great, professional service. Good drawings and models and ultimately passed planning at the first attempt with Hackney Council. Would certainly recommend!
Scenario Architecture have created an outstanding design and space that was beyond my expectations. The design was through their unique process of understanding the client’s daily scenarios and collaborating with the client to come up with a unique design. The design process is one of the most memorable parts of the process and they also stretched my existing ideas to help create this unique space. A stress free journey throughout the whole process which Scenario were indispensable by giving advice on many difficult design and build decisions.
We wanted to renovate our house in a conservation area in central London. Given this involved a complete demolition and new build with an extra floor on top, getting planning approval was always going to be tricky. Scenario did an amazing job on the new house 'envelope' and throughout the planning phase. We couldn't have wished for better from them and having succeeded in gaining planning approval owe them a very big 'thank you'.
Scenario were great at thinking imaginatively and coming up with a design for a ground floor extension that was more ambitous than other architects we spoke to. They also helped us find a contractor who was able to complete the project working within timescale and our tight budget. I would recommend for mid to large sized projects with sufficient budget to allow for full utilisation of their creativity.
Thanks to its proximity to the ancient City of London, you’ll find some of the oldest architecture in the capital across the east end. You’ll also find some of the newest. Large gaps in the architectural fabric – a result of disused industrial land, subdivided gardens and bombing from the Second World War – have encouraged contemporary regeneration. In some places, building and renovation restrictions can be more relaxed, allowing experimental thinking to flourish. Lower prices, traditionally, have also attracted creative business and culture.
All this goes to say that East London can be one of the more exciting places to live today. The great collection of Victorian houses available on the market is ripe for improvement. And brownfield sites between those houses are available for creative development. The RIBA East Awards – sponsored by the Royal Institute of British Architects – are some of the most anticipated in the UK. In fact the RIBA London Award shortlist disproportionately honours East London homes. Our Scenario House, completed in London’s E5 postcode, appeared on the shortlist for the 2018 RIBA London Award. If you are considering building or improving a property in East London, you will have the opportunity to create something truly outstanding.
Hackney, the oldest borough in East London, is filled with three- and four-bedroom family homes with great potential for expansion into side return spaces, disused underground storage holes and lofts. The sprawling borough of Tower Hamlets, encompassing Spitalfields, Victoria Park the Docklands and Canary Wharf, is burgeoning with exciting restaurants and shopping and postindustrial regeneration. Newham began taking huge steps toward gentrification after the Olympic Games in London in 2012. It covers most of the former Olympic Park out to City Airport, and includes large tracts of prewar and postwar housing that can be easily and spectacularly reconfigured.
Living in East London means exposure to a long, storied history. Communities here survived the Blitz, saw the growth of London’s middle class and welcomed millions of newcomers over the ensuing decades. Out on the streets you’ll hear a hundred languages spoken and learn about dozens of exotic foods in the markets and restaurants, from the Bengali communities in Whitechapel to the Afro Caribbean and East Asian communities around Stratford. And you’re never far from some vestige of London’s past, from the Roman artefacts in the Museum of London, Docklands, to the Cable Street Mural in Shadwell, depicting local residents fending off a fascist march in 1936. The small Spitalfields community alone is a living witness to London immigration, starting with the Huguenots, then housing the Jewish diaspora until Asian populations arrived.
This part of London promises to improve as much as, if not more than, any in the coming years.
Frequently Asked Questions
- As a dynamic practice operating in London’s premium residential market, managing projects remotely and conducting virtual meetings was a very familiar territory for us, long before the pandemic began and ‘working remotely’ became the norm.
- Our clients have very busy lifestyles and may move between several different locations, both within the UK and beyond, during the lifecycle of a typical project.
- To accommodate such client needs and enable us to run their projects smoothly we had all the technology and know-how associated with remote working in place for several years.
- Read our full (Virtual) Process
- Scenario based design – We start each and every project with a meticulous analysis of our client’s vision, requirements and aspirations. We do this by asking our clients to imagine their everyday scenarios living in the completed house and describe their desired interaction with it.
- Uniquely interactive - Our client’s deep involvement in the process does not stop with completion of the brief. Our design meetings are highly interactive, informal and fun.
- Designed to reflect you – Based purely on your lifestyle, aspirations and requirements and free from externally imposed concepts, metaphors and pre-conceptions, a completely fresh and unique design will gradually emerge and it will tell your story not ours.
- Collaborative – We start the conversation with planners early and advise most of our clients to seek pre-planning advice prior to submission of a full planning application. Our experience shows that when properly consulted and liaised with, most planning case officers will be receptive to conduct a professional dialogue, increasing chances of successes.
- Strategic – We tailor a custom planning strategy for each project based on its circumstances such as planning history, local context and specific challenging elements. We sometimes split applications or introduce minor tweaks to the scheme during the consideration period in conversation with the officers to prevent one contentious element from jeopardising approval of the main scheme.
- Professional – Our experience shows that the quality and clarity of the submission in terms of background research, planning history of the property and context, precedent and of course the arguments presented to support the case has a tremendous effect on success rate.
- The decision period clock only starts ticking once the application is validated by the Council, This requires then to check that the forms are completed correctly and that the submission contains all the necessary drawings, statements and reports.
- Although required by law to provide a decision within the statutory eight weeks period, it is not uncommon for councils to miss the deadline of the consideration period, normally only by a few days, sometimes longer.
- In some cases the council may ask us as your agent for an extension of time, this may be requested due to internal reasons or as an acceptable result of a professional discussion that we are conducting with them about certain aspects of the application that they are not sure about.
- Our experience shows that planning officers respond better to projects when they feel consulted and collaborated with. We find that when we truly listen to their often helpful and valid feedback and treat them as consultants for the projects and not representative of an evil enforcing authority, they tend to collaborate well with us and demonstrate increased flexibility.
- Although the council in theory have eight weeks to consider your application, in practice they are constantly overloaded. They will only look at your application in the last few days of the consideration period. If this is the first time that they come across a scheme that they were never consulted about, our chance to secure permission for you in a single attempt is significantly compromised.
- The standard practice is for the council to consider the full planning application as submitted and then issue a yes or no decision. Case officers are not required or even encouraged to enter a discussion with us or accept resubmission of minor changes to the proposed scheme during the consideration period.
Open-Plan Layouts: How To Overcome Fire Safety Problems
For the truly contemporary style of interior design, there is nothing quite like the open-plan layout to meet your needs. Typically, an open-plan home is one that has a lot more space, plenty of natural light, and an easygoing atmosphere. A home with this kind of layout is generally going to feel more connected as a family unit, and it also happens to be a style that is currently trendy, thereby adding considerable value to any property.
However, you might have heard that open-plan layouts can often pose issues relating to fire safety. The last thing you want is for the home to be susceptible to any such problems, of course, so it’s vital that you are overcoming those potential issues from the start. Let’s look at this in detail.
Open-Plan Layouts: Do Building Regulations Apply?
There are many wonderful plus points when it comes to open-plan layouts, some of which we have already listed above. Generally, this kind of design is a very free-flowing and easygoing way to live, and it can be a great way to have free creative reign when you are designing a home too.
But like any other kind of building work, you do need to ensure you are following the building regulations at all times, and there are still plenty of regulations that do apply to open-plan layouts. These regulations are often related to safety issues, with one of the most important being fire safety concerns. It is clearly extremely important to make sure your home is as safe from fire as possible, and following the appropriate regulations is the best way to ensure that.
The main concern when it comes to fire safety is: how will people be able to safely escape, should there be a fire in the home? As it happens, you can fall in line with that need and with the fire safety regulations without having to give up on your open-plan dream.
The Risks of Open-Plan Homes
You might be wondering why open-plan layouts in particular need to be given such attention when it comes to fire safety. The fact is that this kind of design comes with its own inherent risks, just like any design has its own set of risks and flaws. With an open-plan layout, you have large rooms and few dividing walls, if any. This kind of layout redesign rarely requires actual planning permission – but even so, you need to comply with the building regulations, including those all-important fire safety rules.
A common issue with open-plan designs stems from the creation of ‘inner rooms’ – those areas where separate rooms are reached solely by another living area like a communal living room, rather than with a hallway. This poses a risk because if there is a fire in that access space, someone could get trapped in the inner room, as there is no other escape route.
On other occasions, you might find yourself in a position where the windows are too small to be used as escape routes. All of these risks need to be worked around when you are designing an open-plan layout.
Meeting The Regulations
So how can you ensure you are meeting the regulations for fire safety, and ensuring that your open-plan home is not a health risk to its occupants? If you have any of those inner rooms we spoke about above, you have two primary options for ensuring that the access room and escape route is protected by fire suppression systems. The first option is to install a sprinkler system, and the second is to use a modern misting system.
Sprinklers Versus Misting
If you go down the sprinkler route, you will need to bear in mind that the British Standard BS 9251 sprinkler systems were originally designed for industrial applications in large settings, not smaller homes and open-plan areas. They can therefore be something of a challenge to have fitted into a domestic scenario like your own, and that fact might raise the budget of your project considerably.
There is also the fact that such sprinkler systems need to get their water from somewhere – and that means making sure that your water mains supply can deliver the right amount and pressure of water. Often, that requires a further upgrade. Installing a sprinkler system will cost you anywhere between £2,000 and £10,000, depending on the size of the home, not including the cost of any extra mains feeds you might require to make the system work.
If you decide to go down the modern misting system route, you might find that this is a much more affordable route to take. These systems use a fine mist to fight fires that break out in the home, affording an entire replacement and alternative for the sprinkler systems and being one that is much simpler and more straightforward to retrofit to your home.
The misting system is activated by a heat sensor, and is normally wall-mounted and with a swivelling nozzle that will dispel the mist, should that be required. This helps to fight the fire and also keeps the overall temperature down, because mist is being sprayed into the air at the same time. Again, the cost varies depending on the size of your home, but it is generally considerably more affordable than the traditional sprinkler systems.
Is it Safe to Have an Open-Plan Design?
With all of this, you might be wondering whether it is even safe to have an open-plan home. The answer is yes, it can be perfectly safe, as long as you are following all of the relevant building regulations along the way. Pay particular attention to the fire safety regulations, and you should be able to keep your home and your family perfectly safe in any event.
As you are trying to determine which systems to use and how to design your open-plan layout to be safe, it is always best to seek the help and advice of a professional architect. They will be able to ensure your open-plan design meets all regulations, while providing you with a beautiful and contemporary home living space.