When you own a home in London, you become part of the city’s long, distinguished history. When you make changes to that home, it becomes a part of yours.
We launched Scenario in 2007 with a customised, out-of-the-box approach to modernising period architecture. We collaborate closely with our clients because we know every scenario is different. The scenario dictates the flow, the fabric, the degree of luxury that makes a house personal, whatever the era or provenance. The scenario tells the story.
Our landmark project Scenario House helped established our practice among London’s top residential architects. Located in Stoke Newington, London, it showcases the potential of the city’s period stock to adapt to changing lifestyles with fluid lines, unusual angles and open spaces. In 2018, it was shortlisted for several prestigious prizes, including the RIBA London Awards.
Your London project
Looking for London architects to renovate, extend or rebuild your home? Come share your plans and we’ll show you how we can transform your space to suit your lifestyle.
In the meantime, guide yourself through each stage of the process with our brief illustrated overview. Most residential architectural projects in London require planning permission from the local council. London architects like Scenario have experience working with planning officials to help you secure those permissions.
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
Our young, dynamic team tackles projects of every scale and complexity, from interior alterations to full renovations and new-build homes. We guide our clients through every stage of the process, from initial consultations through the planning process, construction and final decoration. We plan to complete all our projects on time and on budget.
As a RIBA Chartered Practice, Scenario complies with the strict criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects. We offer our clients insurance, quality-management protection and health and safety measures.
Our architects use innovative 3D visualisation tools to choose fixtures and finishes and simulate natural light. We produce reliable construction information using 3D building information modelling (BIM) technology, saving our clients time and money with accurate, coordinated project data.
This case study from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), featuring a Scenario project, demonstrates the benefits of 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.
London is unique in its great selection of elegant period homes. Whatever your neighbourhood, you’ll find a stock of desirable homes dating back to the Georgian, Regency or Victorian era. Often, though, what these homes reflect on the outside does not compare to how they look on the inside.
London’s strict conservation laws mean many buildings must maintain their architectural integrity on the façade. Yet details hidden from the street view are vulnerable to change. Over centuries, domestic London architecture has been subdivided, fragmented, modernised, replumbed and repaired – and not always compassionately. That doesn’t mean a home with wonky floors, awkward functionality and obliterate period details cannot be salvaged. When looking to buy a home or trying to envision the future of an existing home, it’s always necessary to look past unnecessary walls and difficult corners to what a home can be. There is always new space to incorporate or dead space to recoup, whether in a dark loft, a rear kitchen, a stubborn side-return or barely-there basement storage.
Owners of London architecture must always be prepared to discover deeper problems throughout a renovation. Yet a problem in the hands of a good architect can often lead to a more beautiful and more efficient solution. Defunct electricals and obsolete plumbing can lead to smart systems that promise to save time and energy in the future. A troublesome roof can open up the possibilities for a roof of eco-friendly sedum or a bank of solar panelling. Remember when working out your remodelling budget that good design today may eradicate untold costs in the future.
It is possible to maintain the best period details like original mouldings, timber beams and gables while expanding Victorian and Edwardian homes – just as it’s possible to open up interiors to light and greater ease of movement and reintroduce an original fireplace or floor. New cutting-edge materials and a creative approach can help transform a period home not only for the way we live today, but for future generations. Prioritising good design, incorporating personal habits into the flow of your space and having a liaison throughout the process will speed up the process and eliminate any drama.
Renovating London architecture is more than a luxury in today’s landscape. Renovating well is a necessity for maintaining the rich architectural fabric of the city and housing large families in once-poky spaces. It reduces the need for new construction and cuts down on wasted energy in the long term. Most of all, improving your home goes toward building more beautiful, liveable London.
Taken in its entirety, London appears to have a range of wildly different architectural styles, dating back a thousand years and soaring overhead in futuristic steel and glass. Most Londoners, however, will recognise the residential architecture that flourished over a few hundred years. When London began to expand beyond the old city in the 18th century, after the destruction of the Great Fire had cleared the path to renewal, residential terraces appeared across town. By the Victorian era, architects had perfected an attractive, accessible template for building family homes. They built thousands across the capital and the Edwardians added thousands more, which is why the style, structure and layout are so familiar to us today. These houses, and their surrounds, are a major element of the city’s history.
If you live in London or the surrounding areas, chances are you have slept in, or are now living in, a home with this familiar heritage, in a neighbourhood that may go back even further. Finding an architect who understands and respects this heritage is the key to updating a house with historical value, which is why you should seek out someone local to you.
Local architects will have an appreciation for the neighbourhood and experience working within the parameters of heritage building controls. They may have relationships with local tradespeople and connections with council officials; knowledge of weather patterns, groundwater levels, sightlines and light; they’ll know how ambitious it’s possible to be in your specific area, and take you around to view similar homes in your area. Local architects may even have homes of their own nearby that demonstrate their skills and ambition.
To find local architects who might suit your project, start by asking friends and neighbours for their input. Their suggestions will be far valuable than an endless stream of Google data. Internet resources like Houzz (houzz.co.uk) and HomeOwners Alliance (hoa.org.uk) will turn up firms that operate near you, offer links to their work and provide tips for your first meeting.
Always consult the Royal Institute of British Architects, or RIBA (architecture.com), to look into architects you may want to work with. Make sure they’re registered as a RIBA-chartered practice and have experience working with planning authorities in the area. And then meet your makers. Chances are you’ll find someone inspiring and capable, who cares as much about your neighbourhood as you do yourself.
Architects near me
Moving house is a daunting prospect even before you consider the work yet to be done. It is increasingly rare, in and around London, to find a home that suits you and your family to a T. The longer you live in your new home, the more you’ll recognise what needs to change in order to live comfortably and efficiently for the long term.
Finding an architect near you, who understands the architectural landscape you’re part of, is crucial for transforming your living space while adhering to local building regulations and fitting into the neighbourhood. A good architect will understand the sacred nature of the built environment as well as the period look of your home. The job of a good architect is to accept these existing variables, and play to them in a way that will allow you to live a modern life in a period setting.
This does not mean you and your architect will be working at cross-purposes. The charm of living in a place with history is embracing that history in a way that works for you. And the challenge is achieving a unique, contemporary space with nods to the past that succeeds without compromise. Architect and client should work in close conjunction from start to finish, on the same team. The sum should be greater than its parts.
Even a new-build home can sit happily within a neighbourhood with history if your architect understands the area, its people and the protectors from the local council. Within a reasonable envelope, with dimensions that respect local height caps and sightlines, interiors can take on all manner of styles. Bedrooms can be enlarged and reworked, or carved out under the ground. Extra bathrooms can be magicked from awkward corners; play rooms for children can emerge from lofty gables or expanded kitchens. Space can be captured from fallow driveways or rafters.
One of the drawbacks of a period home is the inevitability of dark, windowless spaces. A deft architect can work within the confines of neighbourhood traditions to draw in light with glass extensions and two-storey voids in the floor plan. They can introduce rooflights, clerestory windows or tempered-glass room dividers. At the same time, they can harness storage space in unused corners to give the illusion of open, minimalist living in a busy family home.
In these ways, altering a heritage home in a conservation area can be as fulfilling as building anew.
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.
Can I Convert My Loft Space?
If you are keen to make the most of the space in your home, you need to consider all the possible parts of it that you might be able to utilise. Many people with lofts in their homes have considered from time to time the possibility of converting it into something else – most likely a bedroom with an en-suite, or alternatively a study or working area. But can you do this with your loft space – and if so, what might be involved in the process?
The Benefits of Loft Conversions
First of all, let’s look into some of the main benefits you can expect to find from loft conversions. Generally, converting a loft will enable you to gain some extra space in your home without having to relocate, which can famously be a huge hassle. You might be growing your family and you feel you need an extra room, or you might be due to start working from home and you need an office. You might even just want a brand new, luxury bathroom.
With a well-designed and created loft conversion, your home can become a much more luxurious and comfortable place to live, and your quality of life can significantly improve. Of course, there is also the fact that you will likely be adding a considerable amount of money to the value of the home, which is great if you are thinking about selling at any point in the future (no matter how far down the line).
Analysing the Situation
If you want to convert your loft space, you will need to analyse the situation first, and see whether you are in a good position to do so. There are many considerations on this front, from budget to how much space you actually have up there, and you will find it is probably necessary to get in touch with a reliable and experienced architect, who can help you to work that out.
With a proper analysis, you should be able to determine not just whether it is physically and fiscally possible to convert your loft space, but what kind of conversion you might be able to go for.
The Physical Space
One of the most important factors in any loft conversion, and the first thing you need to check out regarding the physical space itself, is the head height. You need to be able to comfortably stand up in there, or else it is unlikely you are going to be able to convert it into anything much. At the highest point of the loft, the lowest it should be is 2.3m/7.5ft, to ensure that it is high enough for you to actually live in.
If there is just not enough headroom, there are ways around it – including lowering the downstairs ceiling a little. Of course, that extra work needs to be taken into consideration as well. Likewise, if you have a shallow-pitched roof, it is still possible to have your conversion carried out, but you will probably need a dormer window to make it work out.
As well as the height of the roof, you need to take a good look at its actual structure. Hopefully, what you have in your loft is a cut roof, along with attic trusses. This will ensure that the converted space is going to be as habitable as you would hope, largely owing to how much more open it is going to be. This makes the whole project so much simpler, as all you really need to do then is to install some reinforcement for the structure and build access to the space.
These types of structure are rare, however, especially if your home was built in the past 50 years. In all likelihood, you will have fink trusses, which are W-shaped and which are absolutely essential for the structure of the building. This does not in any way mean it is impossible to convert the loft – just that it will be a more significant job doing so. This is exactly why you need to hire an architect to help you design the space – they will already know exactly what needs to be done in order to convert the space safely and effectively.
The last thing you need to look into physically is the plumbing and electrics, although these days it is fairly straightforward to have these sorted for any space in the home. If you are keen to ensure that you are accommodating for this, however, it is wise to think about it early on and to get your architect to consider it too.
As well as all of that, you need to make sure that what you have planned is actually legal. Much of this can be a real headache to figure out for yourself, so again you are probably going to find it a lot easier to speak to an architect, who will already know everything there is to know about these regulations and permissions that you need to abide by.
That being said, it is easier than ever before to convert a loft space and stay within regulations, thanks in large part to the changes to development laws that came in 2008. This means that it is very unlikely you will need to get planning permission for your loft conversion. Of course, the conversion still needs to comply with all remaining building regulations, as any form of extension needs to. With the right kind of professional help from an architect, you can ensure that this is the case.
In particular, you need to make sure that the new space is protected from the home by half an hour’s worth of fire resistance. That will normally mean installing fire doors.
If you are keen on converting your loft space, it is perfectly doable, as you can see. But before you take another step forward, do make sure that you are seeking out the help and assistance of a professional and experienced team of architects, who can help you along the way.