Scenario Architecture’s work in St Albans began with an exciting brief from a young, local family. They had purchased a detached house in poor condition and planned to replace it with a contemporary new-build. Our challenge was to design a sustainable, contemporary new-build home that respected and complemented the traditional residential architecture of the St Albans streetscape.
We knew that securing planning permission in St Albans for such an ambitious scheme would not be easy. However, our innovative design process helped us reinterpret the traditional house typology in a unique way. The contemporary new-build house strikes a fine balance within its traditional surroundings.
We submitted a robust planning application featuring advanced 3D visualisations of the proposed scheme and a strong planning statement. Our collaborative pre-planning strategy gained support from the St Albans City and District Council planning department – even before we’d submitted a full planning application.
More than just a commercial opportunity, we saw this contemporary new-build project as a chance to develop and refine our unique approach to residential architecture.
We established Scenario in 2007 with a vision to develop a uniquely collaborative architecture. We take a considered approach to our clients’ desires, placing their aspirations for an architect-designed home in focus. The clients’ needs and desires are the main drivers of our design process.
Our experience with residential architecture in and around St Albans shows that a beautiful, highly functional home is the product of a deep understanding and precise analysis of each client’s unique lifestyle. Our tailor-made homes tell the story of the owners – not the architects.
Your St Albans project
Starting your St Albans project
If you’re considering a residential architectural project in St Albans, we’re here to help, whether it’s a renovation, extension or new-build.
We’ve created a brief illustrated overview to help you understand each stage of the process, whether you’re planning a home extension, renovation or new-build in St Albans.
Most architecture projects in St Albans require planning permission from the St Albans City and District Council. With our successful record securing planning permission on behalf of our clients, we can claim home advantage across St Albans.
TipDiscover 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.
AdviceWe have created guides for homeowners to provide additional advice and help with your project. The following eBooks are currently available for you to download:
1. Planning in London and the home counties - A guide for homeowners
2. Self build - A guide to building your own new build home
Your St Albans project >> Scenario Architecture
Working with Scenario Architecture on your St Albans project
Scenario Architecture is a boutique architecture studio focused on high-end residential projects in and around London. Through our bespoke architecture service we tackle domestic projects of every scale and complexity, from interior alterations to full renovations and new-builds.
Our experienced, highly skilled team will take you step-by-step through the challenge of designing your new space. We’ll collaborate closely from the initial drawings, design 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 comply with the strict criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects, covering insurance, health and safety and quality-management.
Early adopters of the latest technology, we use 3D design and visualisation tools as a standard on all our 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 also use 3D building information modelling (BIM) technology to produce reliable construction information, so all our project data comes from an accurate, coordinated 3D model. Using this cutting-edge technology collaboratively with consultants and contractors is proven to save our clients time and money.
This Chartered Institute of Building case study featuring a Scenario project demonstrates the great benefits of this advanced technology for domestic architecture.
Of all the cities in all the Home Counties around London, St Albans has perhaps the richest history. The area has been settled since Celtics lived here in the Iron Age, when it was called Verlamion. When the Romans took over, renaming it Verlamium, they built it into one of the largest towns under its control in Britain. Boudicca, queen of the Iceni tribe, ordered her armies to sack Verlamium in the year 60AD, after which it floundered for nearly a thousand years. You can still see vestiges of Roman occupation and ruins of the old city walls in Verlamium Park and the Verlamium Museum, a 20-minute walk west of the centre. The city also remembers that era of its history with the River Ver and Verlaum Road, both of which slice through the centre of town.
Saxon settlements followed, north of today’s boating lake. But development properly began after the arrival of the Normans to Britain. St Albans still centres on a medieval belfry, built in 1405 and open to the public on weekends. But the city’s pride is its Abbey church, built by the Normans a few decades after they conquered England. It survived the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, and in the mid-1800s George Gilbert Scott, architect of London’s St Pancras Station, was tasked with restoring and reviving it. Coincidentally, St Pancras Station is the main connection for people coming to London from St Albans. Trains into the station take only 20 minutes.
St Albans has its share of Georgian properties, yet the lion’s share is Edwardian and mid-century. The mix of Victorian and postwar building stock gives St Albans a comfortable suburban roominess within an urban setting.
The allure of St Albans to home-buyers is not only its accessibility to London but its outstanding schools and green spaces. Landscaping was increasingly important to the growing middle classes in the early 20th century, and those values inspired an attention to sizeable gardens that continues even in today’s modern developments. As for the architectural fabric, it is ripe for renewal and expansion. The current trend toward “don’t move, improve” means families are staying in this prime Hertfordshire location and expanding their houses considerably. In 20th-century St Albans homes, regulations are more permissive than in Central London.
Scenario Architecture >> In our clients 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.
- 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.