Scenario Architecture’s work in Hertfordshire began with an exciting brief from a young, St Albans-based 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 typical Hertfordshire streetscape.
We knew that securing planning permission in Hertfordshire 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 form of architecture. We take a considered approach to our clients’ desires, placing their aspirations for a new, architect-designed home in high definition. The clients’ needs are the main drivers of our process.
Our experience with residential architecture in Hertfordshire 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 Hertfordshire project
If you’re considering a residential architectural project in Hertfordshire, 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 Hertfordshire.
Most architecture projects in Hertfordshire require planning permission from the relevant district council within Hertfordshire. With our successful record securing planning permission on behalf of our clients, we can claim home advantage across Hertfordshire and neighbouring Buckinghamshire.
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 box.
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 is a boutique architecture studio focused on high-end residential projects in and around the greater London area. We tackle domestic projects of all scales and complexities, from interior alterations and refurbishments to full renovations and new-builds, through our bespoke architecture service.
Our experienced, highly skilled team can take you step-by-step through the challenge of designing your space. We’ll collaborate closely with you 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 criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects, covering insurance, health and safety and quality-management systems.
Early adopters of the latest technology, 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.
We use 3D building information modelling (BIM) technology to produce reliable construction information, so all our project data comes from an accurate 3D model. Using this cutting-edge technology collaboratively with consultants and contractors is proven to save our clients time and money.
A Chartered Institute of Building case study featuring a project by Scenario demonstrates the great benefits of this 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.
The history of Hertfordshire architecture is really tantamount to the history of English architecture. Before there was even a London – or, rather, Londinium – the Romans had established Verulanium, near present-day St Albans. Verulanium was the third largest city in Britain. And settlers there branched out into a satellite village near today’s Welwyn, where the foundations of a Roman bathhouse still remain. Verulanium was so important to the Romans, Queen Boudicca’s army ambushed it in the year 60, after destroying Londinium.
Hertfordshire went quiet after that for a while. But in the second millennium, populations began to flourish there. And as London rebuilt itself and began to expand outward, the region benefitted. Hertfordshire architects, blessed with a constant stream of prosperous clients, boldly designed some amazingly prestigious infrastructure. Being close to the big city, accessed by the main roads out of town, was of great benefit. The illustrious St Albans Cathedral, originally built by the Normans, remains a destination in its own right. Some of Hertfordshire’s best-preserved Georgian homes wind their way out from the church tower. Imposing institutional buildings built hundreds of years back – Hertfordshire claimed some notorious asylums – survive as hotels, golf clubs or office blocks.
Yet some of the most stunning architectural treasures in Hertfordshire tend to be residential. And this being one of the so-called Home Counties, much domestic architecture has remained domestic. Hemel Hempstead, a desirable modern suburb nestled between Luton Airport and the Chiltern Hills, boasts a collection of half-timbered family houses around its old town centre; the high street in Old Stevenage has a choice few timber-framed homes.
Hatfield House, over the railway tracks from Hatfield’s 20th-century town centre, is one of a handful of Jacobean manors in the country, serving as the setting for the film The Favourite, with Olivia Coleman. An rambling wonder to behold, built in 1612 on the site of Elizabeth I’s childhood home, it forms the centrepiece of a historic village peppered with Georgian properties.
Head southwest into Moor Park, Rickmansworth and Chorleywood for homes going back to Queen Anne radiating from pretty town centres with perfect art deco pubs. Then there are the Garden Cities, Welwyn and Letchworth. Here revolutionary town planners organised rows and crescents of Edwardian houses and Arts and Crafts treasures circling vast landscaped parks and community halls.
Hertfordshire architects will be well versed in the planning restrictions for historic properties and steer you toward a compassionate renovation or extension. Barring the availability of such listed properties, Hertfordshire has its fair share of well-designed mid-century developments, which are finally receiving some of the critical praise they are due for their practical layouts and vast banks of glazing. Though many of these properties will have architectural restrictions, structural changes could be less complicated. In the hands of Hertfordshire architects, a typical post war house will transform into a unique contemporary haven.
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.
How To Find A Building Plot
When you are looking for a new home to live in, going down the self-build option can often be particularly exciting. After all, it means that you have the freedom and opportunity to create more or less whatever kind of property you like, and to design it exactly how you wish. This is tremendously exciting, but it is the kind of thing that is also going to be a lot more challenging than simply buying a home.
Unlike buying a property, with a self-build you are going to need to first find a plot of land to build upon, which is generally a much more difficult process than people first assume. Nonetheless, with the right process, you should be able to find the right building plot for your project, and get the ball rolling on creating your very own home from scratch.
The Value of Patience
The first thing to point out is that it is likely going to take you a while to find the right plot. For many people, it can take years to find the perfect building plot, so you should be prepared for that to be the case for you, even if you end up being able to find it faster in the end. The main thing to bear in mind is that you should not rush into buying a plot of land. You need to take time comparing them until you really know what you are going to need, and what a good price is. Patience is going to help you the whole way here.
That being said, if it is taking an inordinate amount of time and you are getting frustrated, you might want to consider revising your goals and ideas about what you need, just to try and speed up the process a little and make it more likely that you will actually find the right spot in the near future. Patience combined with flexibility is a wonderful approach to take.
Pick Your Area
Before you start to hone in specifically on the plots of land you might want to look into, you need to choose an overall area. It is very common for people to search over too wide an area at first. Not only does this mean you may burn out, it also takes a lot longer to get around and view all the plots. You should try to focus on a very specific area, one that you consider to be manageable and which is going to be simple enough to travel around. It is always better to thoroughly search a small area than sparsely search a wide one.
In order to find the right building plots, you really do have to go exploring. When you are choosing building plots, just looking online really isn’t going to cut it. The best way is to put aside entire weekends where you can simply walk around the area that you are interested in, spotting any potential places where you might be able to buy some land. That might include a wide range of types of places, from infill sites to side gardens. Keep your mind open as you explore. You never know where the perfect building plot may be.
Gain and Use Local Knowledge
If you are not a local yourself, you are going to want to start talking to people who do live in the area. They will have a lot more local knowledge than you might assume, and you will be able to use this knowledge to ensure that you are going to the right places and uncovering all of those hidden areas that only locals know about. Even if you are a local yourself, you should still ask around, as you will be surprised at how much people can help you once you ask them for advice and tips. Using local knowledge in this way makes it so much easier to find the right plot faster.
Look Out for Planning Applications
One of the easier ways to find a building plot is to look out for planning applications in the local area. The local authorities usually publish these on their websites, so it is well worth keeping an eye out on those as best as you can. Often, applicants on those sites are looking to sell the plot on rather than build, so you can write to them to explore this possibility further with them. Many people find this to be a very simple and straightforward way to find the right building plot.
Explore Other Routes
There are so many ways to find a building plot, and a lot of it comes down to using your creativity and thinking outside of the box a little. One of the first places to look is always online – even though you will need to walk around and explore the area, looking online is nonetheless going to help you out and give you clues too.
You should also consider asking estate agents and land agents, who will be more than happy to add you to their contacts lists and let you know if anything comes in. There might also be some auctions that they can tell you about – it might be a property auction which you can buy and then raze in order to use the ground and materials, or auction for land.
Finally, make a point of integrating yourself into the community right away. Make it clear to people that you want to be a part of the community, not just live there. This will help to get people on your side, and that is something that could really pay off later on for you.
Once you have your building plot, you will need to start designing your home. That process in itself can be a real challenge. But it is a lot easier and simpler if you have the right help on board. That’s why you should always make sure to hire an architect before you start designing your new home.