Heritage homes make up an overwhelming percentage of London housing, charming holdovers from a time when it made sense to break up rooms and compartmentalise living. In the 21st century, as families are generally shrinking in size, we are putting greater value on communal spaces. The first order of business when moving into a Victorian or Edwardian home is to transform it with an open-plan design.
When designed well, an open-plan house can increase the flow, the safety and the conviviality in a home. At Scenario, we believe in removing walls in the service of better function, better light and better connections, in every sense of the word.
Your Open Plan project
We established Scenario with the goal to run a uniquely collaborative, client-focused studio. Our skilled architects take a contemporary, considered approach to period homes with airy, open extensions, broken-plan design and new-build homes. The results have helped revolutionise London’s architectural landscape.
Our landmark project Scenario House, a light-filled Victorian conversion, demonstrates our innovative, contemporary approach to period conversions. In 2018 the home was shortlisted for several architecture prizes, including the RIBA London Awards.
Discover if your chosen architect has had success pushing planning applications through your local council. Visit the “planning applications” section 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
Our dynamic studio designs contemporary homes and extensions across London and the southeast. We collaborate closely with our clients from the initial concept through construction and aim to deliver all our projects on time and budget.
We use virtual-reality tools and the latest 3D design technology to visualise the process, choose fixtures and simulate natural light. Our building information modelling technology (BIM) produces reliable construction information, renders accurate data on all our models and saves our clients time and money.
Scenario is a RIBA Chartered Practice. We comply with the criteria of the Royal Institute of British Architects, covering insurance, health and safety and quality-management systems.
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.
Reworking an old floor plan to improve light and flow is a crucial step in rejuvenating a house. An open-plan layout is a far more modern prospect than a warren of rooms, designed to sequester the kitchen, heat rooms individually by fire and keep bathroom time short.
Yet a lot of the idealised images we see in design magazines and on Instagram are easier drooled over than done. In many homes – specifically newer architecture – an open-plan layout is as easy as removing an incidental wall. But renovating British heritage architecture is far more involved.
Before simply gutting the communal level of your house, it is essential to consider how each aspect of the new space will relate to the others. We like to think of open-plan design in terms of “zones”. The dining and living areas, work spaces, play “rooms” and home gyms are each zones to themselves, and should be delineated by flooring, changes in level, large furnishings, pocket doors, decorative screens or walls. How these work will determine the furniture you purchase for your space and where you’ll place it. Make sure leisure areas have views through the house and to the outside. Hard-working areas like the kitchen can anchor a layout from the core, creating a “barbell” effect.
No matter how “open” we are in our habits, some areas of the home must always be kept behind closed doors – bathrooms, utility rooms and bedrooms must find a space of their own, away from the prying eyes and sharp ears. You’ll need to tuck these away without boxing them in awkwardly. The same goes for kitchen pantries and vestibules – especially if you spend time outdoors in poor weather. Places that create noise, like the kitchen, should be located at a distance from study areas or TV rooms.
Do you live in a period house? Think twice before you remove all extraneous elements and consider extending crown mouldings, ceiling rosettes, fireplace mantels and panelling around the new, enlarged space. You may appreciate the softening effect they have on a severely modern layout, or you may want to keep them around for the resale value of the house – period details are perennially popular.
All these considerations go some way toward replicating the feeling of having rooms without providing overt barriers between spaces. At the same time, you’ll make better use of the different areas than when they were kept behind heavy doors.
Frequently Asked Questions
- 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.