If you love your home but simply need more space than it has to offer, the prospect of moving can feel like a heartbreaking necessity. But what if you didn’t need to leave your neighborhood behind after all? There’s bound to be some kind of creative solution to transform your home — even if you live on a tight urban lot.
Now in its ninth year, the New London Architecture-organized competition called Don’t Move, Improve! celebrates London’s most impressive home extension projects, highlighting clever designs that expand the amount of usable indoor space within condensed footprints.
This year, a record 200 firms submitted projects for consideration, though they’ve since been narrowed down to a shortlist of 37 exemplary designs to be judged by a panel of both architects and journalists. Winners will be announced at New London Architecture on January 22nd, 2019 at the launch of a three-month exhibition in central London. The event will also offer three public “Design Surgeries,” demonstrating different ways for London homeowners to extend and improve their own homes.
The projects selected for the shortlist are so striking, it’s hard to imagine how the judges will choose the winners. All completed between 2016 and 2018, they strive to simultaneously contrast and complement London’s historic architecture, ultimately making it more functional for contemporary residents.
Perfect for the owner of a more traditional home who craves a bit of ultramodern flair, the extensions find unexpected ways to expand living spaces into backyards, alleys, and even rooftops, often featuring lots of glass to brighten up older, darker interiors. The additions also serve as inspiration for new construction projects all over the city, as London pushes to make use of as much available space as possible to accommodate its growing population.
Standouts on the shortlist include the graphic and angular black addition at Algiers Road by Gruff Limited, which features a spacious terrace and outdoor fireplace; intriguingly zig-zagged extensions at Crouch End by Knott Architects; a warm and playful wooden extension by Neil Dusheiko Architects; a sculptural backyard dining room and kitchen at 16 Ewelme Road by Uvarchitects; a new wing wedged into a side yard by Russel Hunt Architects; a mysterious glass-topped subterranean space at Highbury New Park by Appleton Weiner, and the vertical Shad Thames Water Tower space by FORMstudio.
“There is a wealth of talent among architectural practices in London delivering very beautiful additions to existing homes,” says Peter Murray, Chairman of NLA. “There is also a real incentive for owners to create additional space instead of moving…from the wider perspective of development in London these improvements make better use of existing housing stock and help to deliver additional living space in our crowded city.”
“It’s good to see a trend of gentle experimentation with sustainable natural substances, particularly brick and wood, and of homes being extended in ways that revolve around their owners’ lives, resulting in something both idiosyncratic and full of character,” says judge Philippa Stockley of the Evening Standard. “To make this happen, architects are really listening to and responding to their clients’ wishes.”