As London expands outward and its centre of gravity shifts eastward, it’s only natural that people looking to put their personal stamp on a home search beyond the city confines. Essex has become wildly popular – for families as well as young professionals. Connected to central London by a trusty motorway network and a thick web of public transit, Essex makes the commute extremely doable. And it doesn’t disappoint in terms of natural beauty. In Essex, you can have the best of both worlds: a cosmopolitan urban lifestyle and access to unspoilt outdoors.
Looking toward Essex give you access to all manner of property, from historic townhomes to suburban revival architecture to country estates. If you plan on renovating, expanding or building anew, however, you’ll need the wisdom of a local architect to help you navigate the local building regulations, wherever you land.
For a pool of architects, Essex based, search the database of your local council’s “planning and building controls” microsite; visit the RIBA website for a list of its member-architects; or contact Scenario. We’ve collaborated successfully with councils throughout London and Essex on period and modern homes. Our experience, along with our reputation converting historic homes with a compassionate eye, has made our boutique architectural design practice one of the most sought-after in the UK.
Since launching Scenario in 2007, we’ve established a unique, collaborative style that fuses architectural heritage with modern silhouettes. That fine balance generates striking contrasts, and homes that are easy and enjoyable to live in. Our clients lead the design process, collaborating from drawing table to completion on personalised elements that enhance their way of life.
Our work speaks volumes. We were shortlisted for a RIBA London Award in 2018 for our residential project Scenario House, a showcase of our commitment to period properties with modern details. Elements of this project can be adapted to any homeowner, in any period or contemporary home in the UK.
Your Essex project
Undertaking a renovation, restoration, addition or new build in Essex? The architects at Scenario can help you understand the process. But first, take a look at this illustrated synopsis.
For most building work in Essex, you’ll need approval from your local council’s building department. Architects, Essex-based, can help you through the process, collaborating with officials to see your application through. We at Scenario have successfully secured planning permission for all our clients, so we can help, too.
Discover if your chosen architectural design firm is up to the task. Visit the building controls section of your council’s website, find the search engine for planning applications and enter your architect’s name.
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 specialises in residential architectural design in all varieties and scales. Our London-based boutique studio offers bespoke services for refurbishments, home additions, renovations and new-builds.
We pride ourselves on being a RIBA Chartered Practice, which means we comply with the UK’s strict health and safety criteria for architecture. Though we are based in London, we practice across Southeast England and beyond, so visit our online portfolio if you’re seeking an architect, Essex-based. Our skilled architects collaborate closely with our clients on every stage of the process, from sketches through detailed designs, planning and construction. We deliver on time and on budget.
We work with the latest 3D design technology on all projects. We believe real-time digital visualisations and virtual reality are the most effective and efficient tools for seeing through our work, choosing fittings and simulating natural light.
Read this Chartered Institute of Building case study to find details of a recent Scenario project. It demonstrates the benefits of advanced technologies for our domestic work.
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.
Where does London end and Essex begin? It’s hard to say. Over the years the borders between the city and counties to the north and east have shifted as neighbourhoods sought to be independent from or part of the capital. Suffice it to say: if you can take the Tube there, you’re not in Essex.
What is Essex transcends its reputation as a cluster of bourgeois commuter towns. Take Saffron Walden in the north, as pretty as it sounds amid golden fields, half-timbered houses and a twice-weekly produce market. It connects to Stansted and the City and yet enjoys its own bubble of local theatre, design shops and proper gastro-pub fare. At the opposite end of Essex is Burnham, all frilly Victorian and leaded glass on a landscape of emerald lowlands. Two minutes outside town you can take your pick of deserted beaches with resident seals and skip stones in the breeze. From your converted farmhouse in Waltham Abbey, you can sail down the Lea River to your desk in London. Or you can hole up in Frinton, nab yourself a sherbet-coloured beach hut and get into golf.
Nobody much talks about the history in Essex, the fact that Colchester was the first Roman town (and thus the first target of the murderous Queen Boudicca). Or that Chipping Ongar still has an original Saxon wood church – and the feeling of a Medieval village less than an hour from London. The area is often overshadowed by Suffolk to the north and Kent below. But, of course, Essex was one of the first proper counties in the UK. It was the first route into the country for legions of explorers, invaders and immigrants. And still it boasts quite a bit of natural beauty.
For homes with period features and large gardens that still allow some alterations and expansions under the local codes, go to the outer borders of the county: villages like Dedham on the River Stour, with its Gothic parish church, or the seaside resort Walton-on-the-Naze, with its wind-swept maritime feel and waterfront that falls far short of kitsch. Or explore the tidy hedgerows of the little bedroom communities around Epping Green, from where you can commute into London through forests and marshlands.
Stick to the main centres of Chelmsford and Cheltenham for the amenities of a big city in a small-town environment. Wherever you do go, you’ll be able to find an architect with the talent and compassion to transform your house into a home with a sense of personality and place.
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.