Architectural Practices London

Architectural Practices London

Architectural Practices London

Architectural Practices London About us

One of the city’s top small architectural practices, London-based Scenario has been designing high-end, hard-working contemporary homes around the capital for more than a decade. Our contemporary house designs have featured in Elle Decoration, Dezeen and Houzz, and we’ve been shortlisted for several prestigious architecture prizes – including the 2018 RIBA London Awards for our landmark project, Scenario House.

In 2007, we established a boutique architecture practice in London with a uniquely collaborative process. Our clients’ objectives for high-functioning first-class architecture inform each of our modern house designs. Liveable, aspirational homes are the product of great communication and a firm understanding of every individual’s unique lifestyle. This understanding shows in our work, and it’s made Scenario one of the best small architectural practices in London.


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Architectural Practices London

The addition of a void allowed light and activitiy to be shared over two floors

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Architectural Practices London

Kitchen and dining area leading to the garden

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Architectural Practices London

The Scenario House, Stoke Newington during NLA Open House

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Architectural Practices London

East London extension with glazed rooflight

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Architectural Practices London Your project

If you’re considering a high-end residential architectural practice, London based, we’re here to help, whether you’re tackling a renovation, extension or new-build.

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 the capital.

We’ve created a brief illustrated overview to help you understand each stage of the process.


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.

Architectural Practices London

Architectural Practices London

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.

Architectural Practices London Working with Scenario Architecture

One of the top architectural practices in London, Scenario is a boutique architecture studio focused on high-end residential projects in and around the capital. Through our bespoke architecture service, we tackle projects of every scale and complexity, from interior alterations and refurbishments to full renovations and new-builds.

Our highly skilled team can walk you step-by-step through the challenge of designing your new space. We collaborate closely with our clients from the initial drawings, detail design and planning through tender and construction to the project’s successful completion. On time and on budget.

We use innovative 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.

Our expertise with 3D building information modelling (BIM) technology produces reliable construction information, so all our project data comes from an accurate 3D model. Using this cutting-edge technology collaboratively with consultants and contractors saves our clients time and money. A Chartered Institute of Building case study featuring a Scenario project demonstrates the great benefits of this advanced technology for domestic architecture.

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 systems.

Architectural Practices London

Architectural Practices London In our client's words

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Architectural Practices London Further Reading

British architects are some of the most distinguished and highly trained in the world. The long and noble history of creating good quality architecture across the British Isles has given our architecture schools a strong foundation, excellent instructors and a rich history of heritage properties. Beyond that, commitment within the industry to good-quality contemporary architecture and the pursuit of cutting-edge techniques and styles has pushed the nation’s architects to the top of the heap. Architecture practices in London and beyond from the Royal Institute of British Architects keep up with developments in technology and building codes as well as social codes, creating a contented work atmosphere on site.

To find a highly qualified, trustworthy architect, the RIBA website and its great cache of resources should be your first step. A professional membership body and watchdog, RIBA provides all the tools you need for discovering the best practitioners. After all, if you’re going to put your most valuable asset in someone else’s hands, it’s worth employing the gold standard: someone educated and experienced in house design, building and the nation’s rigorous planning regulations.

A good architect is a problem-solver: fitting the rhythm of your life into the bones of your home and making sure everything can be achieved legally and financially. A great architect will create a bespoke space deeply attuned to your needs – not just today but in the future – incorporating special touches that make your life happier. Less a costly investment or superfluous expense, a great architect is a value-adder, paying for him or herself over and over. Many homeowners, in an effort to cut costs, end up spending more fixing the mistakes they make themselves or entrust to a layman. RIBA has a project database of more than 40,000 case studies that can match you with precisely the specialist you need for your home within your budget.

Once you’ve found an architect you mesh with personally as well as on paper, the process of transforming your home will go more smoothly, from designing to your personal specifications and pushing those specs through the planning process to dealing with builders, trades and decorators on site. RIBA architects don’t make these claims lightly – their reputation depends on it.

What’s The Difference Between Outline Planning and Permission In Principle?

Before taking on any major building project, it’s essential to apply for planning permission. This ensures that your project is legal and there are no land restrictions in place. Fail to get planning permission and you could be heavily fined or your project may even be ordered to be demolished (which could result in huge amounts of time and money down the drain).

A lot of people don’t realise that there are different types of planning permission – and that in some cases you can even choose between two different types. When proposing a self-build, there are two types of planning that you may be able to apply for: Outline Planning and Permission in Principle. Both types of planning permission have different benefits. This post explains exactly what the difference is between the two and how to tell which one is right for you.

What is Outline Planning?

Outline Planning is the older system of the two. It is used at an early stage to determine whether a proposal is likely to be approved by a planning committee. Unlike full planning permission, you do not have to submit all the details of your project straight away – it simply allows you to know early on whether the land can be built on and whether the basic concept has support. This prevents you wasting money on design and resources on a project that would never have been accepted anyway.

The two stages of Outline Planning include:

Stage 1: (outline planning consent) this involves submitting a brief outline of your project early on to see if it is likely to be accepted in full.

Stage 2: (reserved matters) this involves submitting the details at a later date. At this stage, you’ll already have certainty that you can build on the land and carry out the brief concept of your project – you may simply have to tweak details if they are not approved.

Why choose Outline Planning?

Outline Planning is suitable for building projects of all sizes from building a small home to a large residential estate. When it comes to building entire streets of housing or large apartment blocks it is often the preferred option. It can also be used for small projects such as self-builds.

An advantage of Outline Planning is that it has been around for so long and some planning committees are more comfortable with it when it comes to complex residential projects. A building that is to be evenly used for residential and commercial usage may benefit more from Outline Planning than Permission In Principle.

What is Permission in Principle?

Permission in Principle is the newer system of the two, having only been introduced as recently as 2016. It was introduced as a simplified version of Outline Planning to help make applying for planning permission easier.

Like Outline Planning, you do not have to submit all the details of your project straight away. It is made up of two similar stages.

Stage 1: (Permission in Principle stage) this is used to determine whether the site is appropriate for your proposed project.

Stage 2: (technical details consent) this is the stage where you then get any details approved. By this stage, you’ll already be certain that you can build on your chosen land.

Unlike Outline Planning, Permission in Principle is targeted at smaller residential projects. To apply for this type of planning permission the project must meet these criteria:

— It must consist of no more than 1 to 9 dwellings.
— It must occupy a total development space of under 1000 square metres.
— It must be on a site under 1 hectare.
— The majority of the floorspace must be used for residential use. Any commercial usage should be limited

Consequently, Permission in Principle tends to be well-suited to self-builds and small-scale housing developments. On top of being more simplified than Outline Planning, it is also generally the more affordable option.

Why choose Permission in Principle?

If you’re planning a self-build on an area of land less than a hectare, you may find that this form of planning permission is ideal for you. The simplified approach of Permission in Principle can make it much easier to negotiate than Outline Planning. Unless you’re planning something fairly complex, you may prefer to stick to this form of planning permission.

The Permission in Principle application is also cheaper, making it ideal for those on a tight budget. If you’re unsure as to whether your plans will be accepted and don’t want to spend huge amounts of money on something that could well be rejected, applying for Permission in Principle could save you some money.

Outline Planning vs Permission in Principle: A quick summary

The pros and cons of each are as follows:

The pros of Outline Planning

— Ideal for projects of all sizes
— Better suited to complex projects in which residential and commercial usage may be blurred

The cons of Outline Planning

— Application process is more complex than Permission in Principle
— Typically costs more than Permission in Principle process

The pros of Permission in Principle

— A simplified application process for simple construction projects
— More affordable than Outline Planning

The cons of Permission in Principle

— Not suitable for large building projects
— Not suitable for heavily commercial projects (projects should be primarily residential)

Deciding between Outline Planning and Permission in Principle

You may still not know which planning permission route is right for you. Possibly the best way to choose between the two could be to consult in the advice of an architect. There are architectural practices in London that can help you to work out the best suited route for you.

An architect may also be able to help you with the application process itself. With the help of an architect, you can also be sure that any plans submitted are professionally designed. Start searching now for a suitable architect to work with so that you can get your project underway.

Architectural Practices London 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

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQCan I start a project during a global pandemic?
    The scenario design process was developed, tested and perfected through over a decade of extensive delivery of residential projects within and around London, some of its key features are listed below:   
    • 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. 
    We then translate the resulting high definition brief into an informative and revealing 3-dimensional simulation, illuminating aspirations, requirements and patterns of habitation. 
    • 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. 
    Sitting together in front of a real time 3D model of the proposed design with realistic materials, lighting and textures we push and pull the proposed scheme together to explore its full potential and drag and drop different materials to explore various options. hen we invite our clients to take a virtual reality tour through advanced equipment that is always available in our practice for our clients to explore their projects at different stages of development. 
    • 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. 
    It will not look like an image cut out of a trendy architecture magazine and not designed to intentionally impress anyone. It will feel familiar, warm and inviting and you will recognise yourself in it because it will be a genuine expression of the unique way in which you and your family wish to interact with it and enjoy it for many years to come.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhat is unique about the Scenario design process?
    Any architectural project comprises three main aspects, Creative design, Technical design and Project Management. A successful architectural project can only be achieved when all three aspects are properly performed and harmoniously integrated by an experienced professional. But can we really except a single person to specialise and shine in all three aspects and furthermore skilfully negotiate and balance the often contradictory challenges these aspects present? The basic assumption underlying the common structure of almost all other architectural practices today is that it is possible and this is precisely what is expected from the lone and often junior Architect that would typically be assigned to run your project start to finish. Scenario works in a completely different and new way, we believe in specialism and teamwork and therefore assign three experienced specialists for each and every project. A project team in Scenario is composed of a Project Director, a Designer and a Technical Designer, seamlessly collaborating to deliver results, which are noticeably superior to anything that a single person, skilful as they may be, could ever produce.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWho will be assigned to work on my project?
    A key aspect, absolutely necessary to ensure successful delivery of your project is appointing a suitable and competent professional team. If we work together on your project we would be appointed as your Architects and Lead Consultants and help you to assemble the rest of the professional team. Most projects in and around London will require at least four additional consultants, a Structural Engineer, a Quantity Surveyor for cost control, an Approved Inspector to ensure and certify compliance with building regulations and a Party Wall Surveyor if any work is to be done to a party wall or structure. For some projects, depending on scale, complexity and your specific aspirations it may be recommended/required to use the services of additional consultants. Including but not limited to: Planning, Heritage, Right of Light, Landscape Designer, Audio Visual and Building Services Engineer. When appropriate, we will discuss these options with you and obtain relevant quotes for all additional consultants for you to consider.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhich additional consultants are required for my project?
    Planning in the U.K in general and in Greater London in particular is admittedly a tricky business. It is a complex maze of policies, standards and regulations that requires specialised and up to date knowledge and skills to navigate successfully.  Over the years we developed a strong approach and an effective methodology, allowing us to maintain an outstanding track record stretching over more than a decade. Successfully securing planning permission for our clients across Greater London and the Home Counties.  The key aspects of our approach to planning are listed below: 
    • 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. 

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhat is Scenario’s approach to planning?
    The standard consideration period for a residential project is eight weeks, this is the official time frame for your local council to carry out consultation with the neighbours and reach a decision.  We recommend allowing for a minimum of ten weeks from submission to decision as in practice the process always takes slightly longer for the following reasons: 
    • 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.
    Validation can take anything from a few days to couple of weeks when the council is very busy, which is most of the time…
    • 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. 
    While there are some effective measures to apply pressure, which we do not hesitate to use when appropriate, it is generally beneficial for the project to bear with the council a little 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.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQHow long will it take to obtain planning permission for my project?
    Once we have an initial scheme designed for your project which you are happy to proceed with, we will advise whether we recommend obtaining pre-planning advice or proceeding directly to the submission of a full planning application. Most of our projects are submitted first to pre-planning when the following applies.
    • 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.
    In practice our established working relationships and long-standing experience working across Greater London and the Home Counties often enables us to have a meaningful discussion and even introduce minor tweaks to the submitted scheme within the consideration period and prevent the application from being rejected. The chances for this strategy to deliver the desired results increases significantly with projects which were submitted first for a pre-planning advice.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhat is pre-planning and will it be required for my project?
    In the past, it was common practice for local authorities to impose sustainability standards on residential developments. However, the 2015 Deregulation Act removed the obligation on local authorities to require any standard at all, which means the only requirements having fallen back to those of the Building Regulations.  With no clear and improved targets to work towards, in collaboration with Envision (, we have created optional Sustainability ‘Levels’ to offer our clients the chance to drastically improve the sustainability credentials of their home. These ‘Levels’ encompassing Bronze, Silver, Gold and Diamond, traverse a clear and applicable route from basic compliance with current Building Regulations all the way to the full and rigorous HQM (Home Quality Mark) certification within Level Diamond. As the packages become more elaborate in terms of sustainability, analysis and implemented measures, they provide increasing tangible benefits. Ranging from thermal and acoustic comfort and wellbeing, to reduced carbon foot print, savings on running costs and significant advantages through the planning process.  The more elaborate packages obviously entail higher cost in terms of professional fees as well as impact on the construction cost, although each sustainability ‘Level’ will endeavour to not overly burden the construction budget.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhat is Scenario’s approach to sustainability?
    In a nutshell building control is the means by which Local Authorities enforce compliance with current Building Regulations.  In practice there are two main ways to go about obtaining the required advice and certification for your project, via your Local Council’s Building Control Department or via direct appointment of an Approved Inspector who is authorised to carry out the inspection and certification on behalf of any local authority.   The role of either the Council’s Building Control Officer or an Approved Inspector is to verify that your project meets all current Building Regulations. They will review and approve all the drawings, inspect the actual work carried out on site and once the project is completed, issue the final compliance certificate. Due to an open market, healthy competition between local councils and approved inspectors, the process and associated costs are almost identical. Having said that, our experience is that the private inspectors still feel and behave more as your appointed consultants and the council’s service still feels more like a statutory inspection and it is often slower and less responsive.  While it is always good to be informed and understand the process well, as your appointed architects we will take care of this aspect of the project for you and save you considering comparable quotes that we will obtain on your behalf and appointing the selected provider. You can leave this aspect of your project entirely with us.  Building control is required for almost all projects, and for all the projects we ever worked on as only minor renovation works may be exempt.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhat is building control and is it required for my project?
    Currently we recommend allowing between £2,500 and £3,000 per square metre for side extensions, rear extensions or front extensions. For basement extensions, which are most expensive way to add space to your home, we recommend that you allow between £3,000 and £3,500 per square metre. When it comes to roof extensions, our experience shows that it is better to allow a lump sum of £40,000-£60,000 for loft conversions with dormer windows and between £80,000 and £120,000 for mansard roof extensions. These ranges are based on averages from numerous actual projects that we have completed in and around London since we established Scenario in 2007. We only use these rough costs per square metre during the early stages of design to maintain awareness of your target budget until a cost professional is appointed and more accurate methods of estimation are employed. The actual cost for your project will depend on many factors, including the complexity of the design, level of structural support required, and selection of fixtures, fittings material finishes. Using these rough ranges as a guide we will work together with you in an interactive process to optimise budget and scope and find the balance that works best for you. The estimated costs per square metre mentioned above are for the build costs only and exclude VAT and professional fees.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhat is the cost of building an extension?
    Currently we recommend allowing between £2,500 and £3,000 per square metre for areas which will undergo an extensive renovation. We designate an area of the project as extensive renovation if the planned works includes substantial changes to layouts, significant structural works, re-plumbing, re-wiring and full redecoration. For areas of lighter internal renovation which do not require significant changes to layout or substantial structural works but do require full redecoration, re-plumbing and rewiring, we recommend allowing between £2,000 and £2,500 as an estimated cost per square metre, we designate these areas as requiring medium renovation. If there areas in your project which only call for a light renovation such as re-plastering, and painting, installing new floor finishes and light modifications of electrics and plumbing fittings, we will designate these as areas of light renovation and recommend that you allow £1,500-£2,000 per square metre or even as low as between £1,000-£1,500 if you only have light touches in mind. The real cost for your project will depend on several different variables including the complexity of the design, extent of structural works and level of fixtures, fittings and material finishes. These estimated costs per square metre are for the build cost excluding VAT and professional fees.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhat is the cost of an internal refurbishment?
    If you are thinking about building a new house from scratch for which the term Self Build is often used, we currently recommend allowing between £2,500 and £3,500 per square metre for projects in and around London. This may sound like a very wide range initially, perhaps too wide to be useful? As soon as we can establish even a few of the basics of your requirements and aspirations for the project we can safely narrow it down and customise it to match your intentions. The key parameters that will help us to refine initial estimates are whether or not a basement is required to achieve your target floor area, the likely construction method and corresponding structural approach and of course your desired level of fixtures, fittings and material finishes. Another key parameter that we must consider right from the outset is the level of sustainability that we are aiming at, are you satisfied with the base line requirements as defined by current building regulations, or should we aim higher? Working together with sustainability experts we have created our own bespoke set of sustainability packages which allows you to place your sustainability target anywhere you wish. This can range from basic compliance to an extremely sustainable and energy efficient standard which comes with great savings on running costs, future proofing and wellbeing benefits such as improved air quality, thermal comfort, and considerate and healthier surface finishes.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhat is the cost of building a new house?
    The fee structure that we will offer will depend on the type and scale of your project as well as the scope required from us. The vast majority of the projects we take on are what we call ‘full projects’, these are projects for which we will provide full Architectural services from inception to completion, covering the standard scope of services offered by most RIBA Chartered Architects and more. For these full projects our fees will be calculated on the basis of an agreed percentage of the final cost of the building works exclusive of VAT and professional fees. At any given time, we will calculate our fees based on the latest construction cost estimates available until the final cost of the building works has been ascertained. Our fees will be adjusted both forward and retrospectively to reflect any increase in budget and scope of the project, and forward only (due to work already completed) to reflect any decrease in budget/scope. During early stages, our fees will be calculated based on our in-house estimation tool and once available, on estimates by the appointed Quantity Surveyor, followed by actual prices of returned tenders and finally, the contract sum reflecting any changes during construction. Under unusual circumstances we may agree to take on projects only up to a certain stage, for example up to planning, and sometimes from a certain stage if we are taking over from another Architect. For these ‘partial scope projects’ we will normally put forward a simple fixed lump sum proposal.

    Architectural Practices London

    FAQWhat is the fee structure used by Scenario Architecture?