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Londons best home extensions and renovations revealed

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Wed 23 Jan 2019

Londons best home extensions and renovations revealed

A once-ruined and abandoned chapel has been named as London's best renovation project after an ambitious transformation saw the dilapidated building turned into a dramatic new family home. 

With its vaulted geometric ceiling and mezzanine level housed in a 'tent' roof, the ecclesiastical home won first prize at New London Architecture's Don't Move, Improve! awards on 22 January. 

More than 200 entries featuring a range of home renovations and garden room extensions were whittled in November to a shortlist of 37 London projects. Now, almost a third of these have been named as winning entries across nine categories which champion the use of quality, cost-effective and sustainable building materials.

The annual competition highlights the most ingenious home extensions in a city where every inch of space must work harder than ever to respond to demands for contemporary, flexible homes.

Once abandoned south London chapel scoops top architectural prize

“The best entries to Don’t Move, Improve! cover a wide range of ways that architects have transformed ordinary spaces and rooms into interesting and inspiring ones," says Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture.

"The Chapel is one of the most dramatic transformations and the jury was unanimous in giving it first prize – the large space and elegant treatment of the roof was unbeatable."


First prize
The Chapel by Craftworks architects

"This mesmerising re-use of a very dilapidated brick building, which might easily have been demolished, shows how old and new can be integrated in a way that doesn't destroy or diminish the old fabric — which is important — but actively enhances and repurposes it, giving the building the best chance for a long future," says Don't Move, Improve! judge Philippa Stockley.

"In this relatively small and quite plain chapel that was never consecrated, the play of light from the roof almost didn't happen." For the full story, read here.

Second prize: Stego in Southwark, south London

Second prize
Stego in Southwark by Archmongers LLP

This refurbishment and extension of a 1980s end-of-terrace house in south Londonsaw the main home connected to a bedroom which has been converted from a garage by a single-storey courtyard extension. 

Third prize (joint)
Folded Wedge Townhouse by in Lewisham by Russell Hunt Architects and Lauriston Road in Hackney by Gundry + Ducker

"The second and third prize winners are particularly interesting because the architects took two more unremarkable houses and turned them into something very special," says Murray. 

"The joint third prize winner at Lauriston Road is a splendid example of creating light and open spaces using simple and well-chosen materials," he adds. 

How a dark London house became an eco-friendly, book-lover's heaven

Most innovative
Loft Library in Walthamstow by Arboreal Architecture

"This project took the awkward loft of a fairly modern townhouse — a loft reached by a ladder — cleared it of wayward trusses, gave it a staircase, and turned it into an extraordinary wooden library for two academics," says Stockley. 

"And not any old stuffy, formal library, but a magical and romantic library, and on a budget too."

"This again demonstrates the best of British and London architecture and rightly won the innovation prize in the Don't Move, Improve awards." For the full story, read here.

Most sustainable
Reuse Flat in Hackney by Arboreal Architecture

Reuse Flat, in Hackney, is a zero-waste renovation of the kitchen, dining and living areas of a three-bedroom ground-floor apartment.

It features a new interior lining to improve thermal performance, reclaimed wood and materials that can be disassembled and reused in the future. 

Best historic intervention
Tower House in Islington by Dominic McKenzie Architects

A Grade II-listed house, originally built in the 1830s, with an odd layout due to a rear extension carried out in the Eighties. A new two-and-a-half-storey extension replaces the 1980s one, creating a slender tower at the back of the house. 

Best interior
Crouch End House in Haringey by Catriona Burns Architects

A new kitchen and dining room extension at the rear of a terraced house in Crouch End. 

Best use of materials: Kings Grove in Southwark, south London (Ståle Eriksen)

Best use of materials
Kings Grove in Southwark by Al-Jawad Pike

A two-storey extension, using pigmented concrete blockwork for the exterior and interior, of a Victorian house. 

Most cost-effective (joint)
Scissor Truss House in Lambeth by Studio MESH and Breakout Extension in Haringey by KNOTT ARCHITECTS

This year's 37 shortlisted projects ranged in cost quite dramatically — the cheapest project cost just £39,000 while the most expensive was £1.1 million. The shortlist average cost was just under £264,000.

Last year's winner was Sun Rain Rooms in Islington, an extension and restoration of a Georgian townhouse - with a rainwater tank that floods the patio at the touch of a button, transforming it into a reflecting pool. 

Previous winners have included The Sunken Bath, a Victorian terrace in Clapton which was transformed by a side return with glass garden room, Japanese plunge pool and copper kitchen; and House of Trace in Lewisham which went on to win the national RIBA prize. 

The most common types of projects are rear and side extensions, with interior refits, as befitting London's semi-detached and terraced housing stock. 

Themes and trends that the judges expect to be big next year are: multi-functional indoor/outdoor use spaces, use of wood and natural materials, inter-connected spaces and statement ceilings.