August 10, 2022


Making living better

Don’t Move, Improve! 2020 shortlist: Alice in Wonderland-style home and geometric Twist House among projects up for top architecture award

3 min read

Twenty-five London home renovation projects completed in the past 12 months have been shortlisted for New London Architecture’s Don’t Move, Improve! 2020 awards.

The shortlist was whittled down by judges from more than 200 entries, with winner to be announced on 11 February.

Six special prizes will also be awarded to showcase projects which adeptly overcome key challenges.

Spending on home improvements in London has jumped by more than a third in 10 years as property owners, constrained by Brexit unease, stamp duty and high moving costs, renovate rather than relocate.

Homeowners save on stamp duty by staying put, but extending also saves on land. In a densifying city, amid a housing shortage, it’s vital we improve existing properties, explains Peter Murray, chairman of New London Architecture: “Land is London’s most valuable asset and we need to use it efficiently. By extending our homes we are doing just that.”

Each project on the shortlist plays Tardis-like tricks to maximise space and light, including three ingenious projects that have turned narrow box homes into spacious family houses. 

Scroll through our gallery above to see the 25-strong shortlist in full. Some of this year’s most unusual award contenders include: 

Twist House, Islington

One of the most striking projects to make the shortlist is a small rear extension to the rear of a Georgian terrace house in Islington. 

Called Twist House, it’s essentially a two-storey structure with 40 square metres of living space on the ground floor and useful laundry rooms at basement level.

Framed by four red-brick columns, arranged in complex geometric spirals, the extension was designed by Urban Mesh Architects. 

Three Rooms Under a New Roof, Hackney

An eco-build down an alleyway designed to be a family home, by Ullmayer Sylvester Architects Ltd.

There are hatches from the kids’ bedrooms over the living space (presumably to shout down breakfast orders) and a white, curving cantilevered staircase with wire chords instead of bannisters.

Slanted glass panels are used instead of windows on the whole of one side of the building. 

White Rabbit House, Islington

A huge project in Islington that saw a two-storey 1970s house turned into a three-storey one, with mock Georgian sweeping staircase, arched doorways and a curved, Alice in Wonderland-style corridor. By Gundry + Drucker Architects.  

Vestry Road, Southwark

A beautiful transformation of a narrow and cramped Victorian terrace, using soft, raw materials.

Exposed pale brick and Douglas Fir timber provide warm textures in the kitchen to create a welcoming place.

There’s a frameless skylight at the rear of the kitchen ceiling giving space and height and a bifold window with a window seat looking out into the garden. Designed by Oliver Leech Architects. 

Victoria Park Road II

A three-bedroom maisonette in Hackney, by ZCD Architects, arranged across the lower two floors of a four-storey terrace corner house which dates back to the late nineteenth century. 

The living space has been opened up to a new sunken garden, while the near-reflective white-stained timber exterior is contrasted with coloured frames, black fittings and lots of greenery. 

The judging panel of New London Architecture’s Don’t Move, Improve! 2020 awards includes Peter Murray of New London Architecture; Tamsie Thomson, Director of the London Festival of Architecture; Ellie Stathaki, Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*; Anna White, Homes & Property journalist; Anna Liu, Founder of Tonkin Liu Architects; and Andy Downey, Director of Elliot Wood civil engineers.


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