With heritage homes more desirable than ever in London and beyond, homeowners are renovating and expanding as a matter of course. Lifestyles have changed to put more emphasis on open kitchens, en suite bathrooms and natural light. It takes a professional architect to distil the ambitions of a modern household into a beautiful and efficient package that will also pass muster with planning regulations. Scenario counts itself among the top residential architecture firms in London. We have more than a decade of experience restoring and enhancing heritage homes across the city with our unique, contemporary approach. A Scenario home may look like its neighbours from the pavement, but behind the façade it wows with unusual sightlines, fluid lines and a remarkable distinction between old and new. Clients who choose us aspire to a new archetype for London living: open and comfortable, luxurious yet accessible.
A highly functional home is the product of a deep understanding and precise analysis of each client’s unique lifestyle. Among all the architecture firms in London, Scenario’s founding partners share a unique vision: to practice a truly compassionate and collaborative art. Since 2007, we’ve taken a considered approach to our clients’ needs and ambitions, pushing them to the next level. Scenario’s tailor-made homes tell a story about each owner – not about the architects.
Our landmark residential project Scenario House established us as one of the top architecture firms in London today. Located in Stoke Newington, east London, it showcases the best of what a Victorian house can become and sets a high bar for modern refurbishments. In 2018, the house was shortlisted for the RIBA London Awards and other architecture prizes. Still as fresh and efficient today as when we put it to paper, it merges contemporary steel and glass with reclaimed wood, antique brick and eco-friendly elements.
If you’re considering using any architecture firms in London, we’re here to help, whether you’re planning a home renovation, extension or new-build. Most new London architecture projects require planning permission from the local council. We’ve built a successful record securing planning permission for our clients and claim home advantage across the city.
Click here to read our illustrated overview, outlining 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.
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
A boutique architecture studio, Scenario focuses on high-end residential projects in and around London with our bespoke architecture service. We tackle projects of every scale and scope, from interior remodelling to full renovations and new-build homes.
Our highly skilled team will take you through every stage of your project. We’ll consult with you from the initial drawings through the design details, steer you through local planning and tender. We’ll be stand by you throughout the construction and see you through the successful completion of your home. We always finish our projects on time and on budget.
Scenario is a RIBA Chartered Practice. We comply with the strict criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects, meaning our clients are protected against health and safety measures with quality-management systems.
We are early adopters of cutting-edge architectural technology, using innovative 3D design and visualisation tools as a standard on all projects. Our experience shows that real-time visualisations are the most efficient tools for choosing fixtures and fittings, and for simulating natural light.
We produce our reliable construction information with 3D building information modelling (BIM) technology. All our project data derives from accurate, coordinated 3D models, and saves our clients time, money and worry.
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has published this case study featuring a Scenario Architecture project. It 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.
There was once a conventional wisdom for homeowners. When buying a house, you conform to its original architecture. You may add plumbing and electrics, but you suffer for the structure. You leave walls intact, add armoires rather than build new storage. And God forbid you paint over exposed brick.
Our lifestyles have changed, along with our design savvy. Most homeowners now know how a period house can be opened up and converted into a contemporary one without altering the integrity of the structure and façade. But few of us have the tools to customise a design and carry out the work.
With separate kitchens, formal parlours and out-of-the-way bathrooms in the past – and a dozen decorating titles on the market for every style and budget – tearing up floor plans and starting anew is de rigueur. An architect will take things from there. Just like no two families are the same, the same goes for a house. An architect makes the ideal liaison between those two entities – as well as with contractors, builders, tradespeople and wholesalers. An architect will create a running dialogue between everyone and everything.
It takes a trained practitioner to offer clever solutions for sneaking in storage, an extra toilet or an essential workspace. And an experience eye will see where you’ll need to, say, sacrifice on living space to get the kitchen you want – or see that you won’t need to sacrifice after all.
Architecture firms in London and beyond are slowly transforming the built landscape. The cookie-cutter homes builders envisioned 150 years ago are morphing behind heritage facades to suit evolving lifestyles and specific needs. Kitchens are growing, and serving multiple purposes as entertaining spaces and home offices; with separate dining rooms less important nowadays, they’re being folded into the new so-called Great Room. Meanwhile massive units for music and screens are shrinking. The focus of the lounge has changed entirely in just a handful of years. En suite bathrooms and walk-in wardrobes are being carved out of eaves and poky bedrooms – not to mention spaces for yoga and meditation. Stairs are hiding storage to reduce clutter coming from small children, while walls are hiding appliances nobody could have even conceived of 50 years ago.
An architect will know where and how to incorporate these changes into your home before you even know you want or need them. And they’ll pinpoint the perfect materials with which to achieve it all. In the end your house will be a true original.
Finding a property you love in London
Finding a property you love in London is a challenge. But completing the deal and exchanging the keys don’t mean the process is over. Most London homes have decades, if not centuries, of baggage, and owning one comes with a fair set of constraints, whether you’re planning to renovate, extend, convert or build anew. Urban settings are rife with physical limitations – on top of which you could find yourself in a conservation area. Listed buildings require mountains of paperwork to alter, if you can alter them at all. Buy in a green belt, and you’ll have to respect landscapes, slight lines and your natural surrounds.
As an architecture company in London, we can help unlock the potential of your chosen home and its site. Despite the restrictions inherent in London architecture, we can transform your new home with outside-the-box design and strategic planning. Our proven record with period homes across London and beyond ensures a smooth and satisfying process for everyone involved.
Connections with neighbourhood planners and fluency with local protocols have steered our creative design, forcing us to reimagine every space respectfully and sympathetically to the environment. Our homes make use of every conceivable nook and cranny, push boundaries to the limits and evolve with our clients’ changing lifestyles. We find space for our clients in lofts, basements, side returns and conservatories in order to breathe new life into old bones.
Scenario’s dynamic team works closely with our clients and with one another to find inspired solutions to the challenges facing us today. We incorporate smart-home solutions, home-office capabilities, space for exercise and winding down into our floor plans. And every element is considered for its sustainability.
Above all, we offer a range of finishes and fittings that can make a period home seem as fresh as a new-build. We want our clients to wake up every morning wishing to be nowhere else but home.
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.
The Government’s New Plans for Planning Permission in England
Planning permission can be one of the major frustrations when it comes to putting together plans and constructing any sort of extension, building, or add-on. A lot of people spend months waiting to find out whether or not their planning permission has been approved. There can be nothing more disappointing than finding out that permission that has not been granted. You then have to make the necessary adjustments and reapply. It can be a long, drawn-out process. This is why a lot of people in the industry and homeowners alike have been delighted to learn that are changes being made when it comes to planning permission in the UK.
What is planning permission?
Before we look at the proposed changes when it comes to planning permission, we first need to establish what this is. In simple terms, planning permission is simply the process of asking whether or not you will be able to carry out certain types of building work. Planning permission will either be refused or granted based on a number of factors. In some cases, planning permission may be granted but it will be subject to some conditions. The main responsibility when it comes to planning permission has been granted to the planning authorities within the local area. In the majority of cases, this will be your local council’s planning department.
When do you need planning permission?
There are a number of different reasons why you may require planning permission and requirements can change from area to area, so it is important to keep this in mind when it comes to figuring out whether or not you need planning permission for your home.
Generally speaking, you will probably need planning permission if you want to build something new, alter the building’s use, or make a considerable change to the building in question, for example, add on an extension.
To find out whether or not planning permission is going to be required for your specific project, the best thing to do is get in touch with the planning authority at your local council to find out what the requirements are within the local area.
If you choose an architectural firm with care and consideration, planning permission is something that they will account for in their plans. They will help you to bring forward a plan that has a great chance of being approved for planning permission.
It is also good to understand when you will not require planning permission, as this can help you to understand how best to proceed with your project. If projects have permitted development rights, planning permission is not typically needed. Building projects that are going to usually have these sorts of rights include demolition, yet you do need to get this approved via your council, some outdoor advertisements and signs, and industrial warehouses and premises.
There are some other types of projects that may not require planning permission, for instance, any sort of project that is not going to have any impact whatsoever on your neighbours.
Making an appeal against the decision you received
If your planning application has not been accepted, there will typically be reasons why. Most people will make adjustments based on these reasons and then submit a new plan.
However, if you feel that the decision is unfair, you may want to consider appealing against it. You can only appeal if your application has been refused or if the application has been granted but you object to the conditions.
You are also able to appeal if the decision was not made within the time frame of eight weeks or 13 weeks for major developments.
Proposed changes with regard to planning permission
Planning for the Future is a white-paper that has been released by The Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG). This paper has the purpose of attempting to revolutionise England’s planning system and cut the red tape that is in place. There are a number of key elements that will have a big impact when it comes to the planning permission landscape. Below, we will explore this in further detail so that you can get a better understanding of the new plans for planning permission under the current government.
One of the main headlines associated with the new planning permission rules is that there are going to be three types of land designated for protection, renewal, and growth. This will come with an outline planning that is granted automatically based on the land that has been allocated for growth. With this, design guides will be implemented, which will be crafted by councils as part of the new council plans. What this means is that some applications will have the potential to be fast tracked. This will be music to the ears of a lot of people, especially those who have experienced delays waiting for planning permission to come through.
What else has the proposal identified as potential areas for improvement and change?
Another promising development is that the white paper has specifically called for councils to identify areas of growth for both custom and self build properties, as well as confirming the exemption that self-builds have with regard to the Community Infrastructure Levy. It is good to see acknowledgement that the planning system has held the industry back for too long and that changes need to be made so that we can move the housing market in the country forward.
To conclude, it is important to make sure that you are aware of the latest planning permission requirements before you embark on any build at your property. By working with one of the reputable architecture firms in London, they will be able to make sure that your plans adhere to the latest rules and regulations so that you do not have anything to worry about from a compliance standpoint. This highlights why it is imperative to choose a firm with a lot of care and consideration. You need a company that is going to consider planning permission carefully when putting together the right plans for you.