August 7, 2022

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Don’t Move, Improve awards 2017: London’s most innovative extensions include a sunken Japanese bath, a sliding staircase and a crow’s nest-style lookout

4 min read

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As more Londoners turn to improving and expanding their homes thanks to rising prices and increased stamp duty, the results of a new competition could give them inspiration.

The Don’t Move, Improve awards single out the most innovative and ingenious extensions in the capital and was won this year by the Sunken Bath project in Clapton, east London.

The contest, now in its seventh year, is run by New London Architecture, a forum for discussion about architecture in the capital.

Studio 304 Architects, designers of the winning entry, took inspiration from the Japanese way of bathing, where taking a bath is devoted to being a relaxing and warming activity, while actual cleaning of the body is done beforehand. 

The bath was set into the floor to maintain views from the ground-flat’s bedroom window and the extension includes a copper-lined kitchen and dining area and a separate shower and loo. 

The architects took inspiration from Japanese aesthetics and early 20th-century concrete installations and this is clear from the new exterior wall, which features glazed openings through larch slats, providing light and views as well as privacy.

The project was rounded off with a garden makeover finished in granite gravel, polished concrete and bamboo.

Gary Tynan, director of Studio 304 Architects, said: “We were very lucky to have well-informed clients who not only wanted something interesting, personal and unique, but also understood the challenges around the space.”

THE BEST OF THE REST
Second prize was won by Patrick Lewis Architects for their project in Molyneux Street in Marylebone, which took inspiration from a ship’s crow’s nest to create a lookout post that evolves into a stunning piece of furniture. 

The Rug Room in Oval won third prize for its angled garden workspace by Nic Howett Architects and costing just £25,000. 

Kirkwood McCarthy got a special commendation for Pages Lane, a sensitive transformation of an historic property in Muswell Hill.

Best interior design went to Clay House in Tufnell Park by Simon Astridge Architecture Workshop for its soft and subtle design. 

The best use of materials prize was awarded to Erbar Mattes for Harvey Road in Hornsey, a minimal yet assured project.

Studio 30 Architects won the best value award, for The Study House, partner Henri Bredenkamp’s own home, a four-storey townhouse in New Cross.

Best historic intervention went to R2 Studio Architects for Delawyk Modular House, a porch insertion that reinvigorated a Sixties end-of-terrace house in Herne Hill.

Studio McLeod’s Home/Studio on Kilburn Lane won most innovative prize for a project which included a large workspace, floating garden and even a secret sliding staircase.

Peter Murray, chairman of New London Architecture, said: “As London grapples with a housing crisis and a shortage of land, more efficient use of existing homes is a key part of densifying the capital.” 

The winning projects are showcased in a free exhibition, alongside the complete longlist of 120 projects, at The Building Centre in Store Street, Fitzrovia, until March 29.

The competition was held in association with Clippings.com, Dezeen and RIBA London and the judging panel included Philippa Stockley of London Evening Standard, Carl Turner of Carl Turner Architects, Cany Ash of Ash Sakula, Russ Edwards of Pocket, Jo McCafferty of Levitt Bernstein and Amy Frearson of Dezeen.

LOOKING FOR HELP?
NLA is holding a series of design surgeries to people looking to extend and improve their own homes, the first of which is on February 25 at The Building Centre. Register at newlondonarchitecture.org/designsurgeries

For Londoners inspired enough by the competition to want to buy the furniture and lighting featured in the winning homes, NLA partnered with Clippings.com to create a special website at clippings.com/dont-move-improve.

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Your home is a physical and perhaps emotional comfort zone where you can heal and recover enough to address all your work problems the next morning.

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