The quiet residential suburbs northwest of London are more attractive than ever for house-buyers seeking more space for their families, home-offices or studios. Friendly, leafy and largely residential, neighbourhoods like Watford are steadily improving with new restaurant openings and good multicultural schools. And though property here costs far lower than in London proper, the main transit hubs access central London in 22 minutes.
The area within the M25 yet beyond the London Underground enjoys a wealth of well-maintained heritage and modern housing with potential for expansion and renovation. Properties are slightly wider than the norm across London and slightly younger: mostly Victorian terraces and mock-Tudor semis. Yet building or altering a home deep in the outskirts comes with some responsibility for respecting a past that goes back centuries. A skilled architect familiar well versed in the West London vernacular will understand how to transform a property of any style or respectfully plot a modern structure within the landscape.
With an extensive portfolio of completed residential projects throughout North London over more than a decade, we see Highgate as our backyard. Our clients have made us the architects of choice in the area: changing Highgate’s architectural landscape house by house.
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 a new, architect-designed home in high definition. The clients’ needs are the main drivers of our design process.
A beautiful, highly functional home is the product of a deep understanding and precise analysis of each client’s unique lifestyle – and that shows in our work. Scenario’s tailor-made homes tell the story of the owners – not the architects.
Our landmark project Scenario House, located in Stoke Newington, was covered widely by the media and shortlisted for several prestigious architecture awards – including the 2018 RIBA London Awards. It demonstrates our successful approach to domestic architecture projects.
Your Watford project
A beautiful, highly functional home is the product of a deep understanding of each homeowner’s lifestyle. Our bespoke designs tell the stories of the people who live there – not their architects.
Scenario’s innovative design process helps our architects reinterpret traditional house typologies and design new-builds that respond to the existing streetscape. Our collaborative pre-planning strategy has been successful with local council authorities.
Discover if your chosen architect has had success steering 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
Scenario is a complying with the strict criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects, covering insurance, health and safety and quality-management systems.
Our small, dynamic studio takes on high-end residential projects around Greater London and the Home Counties. We tackleinterior alterations, refurbishments, full renovations and new-builds, collaborating closely with our clients from the initial drawings through construction. We strive to complete all our projects on time and on budget.
Early adopters of the latest technology, we use innovative 3D building information modelling (BIM) as a standard on all projects. Our experience shows that real-time visualisations and virtual reality are efficient tools for choosing finishes and fittings, and simulating natural light. All our project data comes from accurate, coordinated 3D models that save our clients time and money.
This Chartered Institute of Building demonstrates the 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.
Living just beyond the reach of the London Underground means more space for less money and more freedom to create a truly bespoke living space. The latter is, of course, what excites us the most at Scenario. Our business is built around pushing the boundaries of what a home can be – how bright, efficient, original and beautiful it can be. And we do our best work when our plans align with the dreams of our clients and the demands of the local community.
This decade has been an exciting one in that respect. It’s sparked a renewed interest in quieter lifestyles away from the bustle of urban life. Technological advancements in remote-working have enabled many home-seekers to widen their property search to the threshold of the Home Counties. And the housing stock beyond the city is improving as it climbs in desirability.
In places like Watford, northwest of London, young families are buying clean, spacious houses within easy reach of the green belt yet walkable to the local high street. And they’re seeing the potential for opening up these spaces, modernising kitchens and adding glazing where possible. They’re doing this without a lot of the unyielding restrictions in place throughout London, whether with a Victorian or a newer midcentury property.We’re being asked to transform homes all around the Greater London Area, to maximise space and increase efficiency in our unique signature style.
Over the past decade, extending a home with a loft or side return extension has become common practice in Watford and the near-Buckinghamshire area. Watford architects have had much success routing modern and dramatic housing plans through the local council, provided they respect the area’s height and volume restrictions and, of course, the heritage architecture. Within this framework, architects like Scenario are finding new and creative ways to bring more light, space and functionality into the area’s homes. And every passing year brings new developments in materials and technology to make this easier and more standard.
To see what is possible under the current regulations, contact us with your current plans. You may be surprised how far you can take them.
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.