Londonʼs best new home extensions and small offices revealed

Friday 3 February 2012

A larch-clad extension to a Victorian terraced house in Wandsworth, a suburban garden studio In Enfield and a converted container at Hackney City Farm have been announced overall winners of NLAʼs third annual ʻDonʼt Move, Improve!ʼ competition to find Londonʼs best new home and office extensions.

The competition, run this year in association with Elle Decoration, RIBA London, the British Institute of Interior Design and BoConcept, seeks to find the best-designed and most innovative solutions for creating more space in Londonʼs homes and small offices, showing how sensitively designed extensions can be positive additions to the townscape. 

This yearʼs winners were selected by an eminent jury from a shortlist of 72 schemes, all of which are on display at the NLA galleries at The Building Centre, WC1 until Wednesday 28 March

The projects range from the transformation of a 1930s garage into a family home in Camden to the millionpound refurbishment of an apartment in Belgrave Square, and demonstrate a wide range of solutions for extending Londonʼs typical dwelling types. Each will provide inspiration for homeowners and small businesses looking to create more space in their homes and offices at a variety of budgets. 

The jury selected two winners in the Home Extension or Refurbishment Category. Dove House is a striking monochrome extension to a family home in Wandsworth designed by Gundry & Ducker Architects. Clad in black-stained larch and incorporating a miniature version of the extension in the garden as a childrenʼs playhouse, it was described by the judges as “extremely playful and original but respectful at the same time”. 

Surburbanstudio by Ashton Porter Architects amalgamated the refurbishment of a conventional Victorian suburban home in Enfield with a new single storey home office at the bottom of the garden, transforming the garden in the process. The project was achieved without the need for planning permission and was felt by the judges to be “an incredibly clever response to working at home, enjoyable to use and rich in lovely ideas”. 

Magnificent Container by Carl Turner Architects was named winner of the Small Office Extension or Refurbishment category. This £7,000 low-cost, low-carbon project space for not-for-profit organisation Magnificent Revolution, was made by recycling a shipping container and palettes, and was praised by the judges for “its imaginative use of found objects”. 

Peter Murray, Chairman of the jury, commented: “This yearʼs Donʼt Move, Improve! winners and shortlist illustrate the benefits of well-designed home extensions and promote the involvement of architects in the process. In these difficult economic times, renewal and refurbishment play an increasingly important part in the renewal of the city. Too many small buildings are erected without a designer; the projects on display here demonstrate a heartening range of solutions to create more space at a variety of budgets.” 

A number of commendations and a runner-up were also awarded. The Jewel Box by Fraher Architects was named runner-up in the Home Extension or Refurbishment category. The timber and concrete extension conceived as a series of jewelled boxes were praised as “beautiful”by the judges. Cornerstone by Threefold Architects was commended in the same category as “a fabulous urban intervention on a fantastic site”, a new glass box seamlessly extended the living space of a brick end of terrace building to create living space above a gallery and office in Whitechapel. Highly commended in the Small Office Extension or Refurbishment category was Belsize Garage Studio by Sanya Polescuk Architects, a Victorian coach and horses stables stripped of its later domestic additions and returned to a working environment of a new kind. 

In an additional category introduced this year in association with the British Institute of Interior Design to recognise the best interior design project, The Brunswick Centre Apartment by Space Group Architects was awarded a commendation. The project was deemed "sympathetic to the original yet unashamedly contemporary".

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