It was during the Victorian era that London became the great modern city it remains today. Victorian architects gave London its charming streetscape and wealth of gracious residential terraces, popularising the use of red brick and steep, ornate gables. Yet as much as we still covet this archetypal London style, most Victorian houses lack the loftiness and openness we crave today. Fortunately, most London boroughs will allow sympathetic Victorian renovations, provided they do not interfere with the original front aspect.
Scenario takes a fresh, inventive approach to revamping period properties. Founders Ran Ankory and Maya Carni, graduates of London’s Architectural Association, have built an extensive portfolio of Victorian renovations throughout London, and a RIBA-chartered practice on top of the latest methods and technology. They see the city’s most diverse residential neighbourhoods as their backyard.
With more than a decade’s experience adding vaulted spaces and graceful curves to classic Victorian homes, Ran and Maya have earned their place as London architects of choice: changing the architectural landscape house by house. Their Victorian renovations have featured in such magazines as Elle Decoration, Dezeen, Houzz and Ideal Home.
Their landmark project Scenario House, a Victorian terrace house with a double-height extension in Stoke Newington, was shortlisted for several prestigious architecture awards – including the 2018 RIBA London Awards. It demonstrates Ran and Maya’s unique, considered approach to domestic architecture.
A beautiful, highly functional home is the product of a deep understanding and precise analysis of each client’s unique lifestyle. That shows in Scenario’s work. Each tailor-made extension tells the story of the owners – not the architects.
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Your Victorian Renovation project
If you’re considering a Victorian renovation in London, we’re here to help. We’ve created a brief illustrated overview to help you understand each stage of the process.
Most Victorian renovations require planning permission from the local council. With our successful record securing planning permission on behalf of our clients, we can claim home advantage across residential London.
Discover if your chosen architect has had success steering planning applications through your local council. Visit the “planning applications” page of your council’s website and enter the architect’s name in the search criteria.
Scenario is an established architecture practice focusing on contemporary residential design. We take on projects of every scale and scope, from home refurbishment, renovation and expansions to new-builds.
Working with Scenario Architecture
Scenario is a boutique architecture studio focused on high-end residential projects in and around London. We tackle domestic projects of every scale and complexity, from interior alterations and refurbishments to full renovations and new-builds, through our bespoke architecture service.
Our friendly, highly skilled team can take you step-by-step through the challenge of designing your Victorian renovation. We’ll collaborate closely with you from the initial drawings, design and planning through tender and construction to the successful completion of your project. On time and on budget.
Scenario Architecture is a RIBA Chartered Practice. We comply with the strict criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects, covering insurance, health and safety and quality-management systems.
Early adopters of the latest technology, we use innovative 3D design and visualisation tools as a standard for all projects. Our experience shows that real-time visualisations and virtual reality are extremely efficient tools for choosing finishes, fixtures and fittings, and simulating natural light.
We use 3D building information modelling (BIM) technology to produce reliable construction information, so all our project data comes from an accurate, coordinated 3D model. Using this cutting-edge technology collaboratively with consultants and contractors is proven to save our clients time and money. This Chartered Institute of Building case study featuring a Scenario project demonstrates the great benefits of this advanced technology for domestic architecture.
In our client's words
Great ideas and vision to help with our substantial improvement of a Victorian terrace. In our experience Scenario's method prioritises the final result. That may mean more professional fees or higher quotes from contractors, as they understand the exact requirements.
Great, professional service. Good drawings and models and ultimately passed planning at the first attempt with Hackney Council. Would certainly recommend!
Scenario Architecture have created an outstanding design and space that was beyond my expectations. The design was through their unique process of understanding the client’s daily scenarios and collaborating with the client to come up with a unique design. The design process is one of the most memorable parts of the process and they also stretched my existing ideas to help create this unique space. A stress free journey throughout the whole process which Scenario were indispensable by giving advice on many difficult design and build decisions.
We wanted to renovate our house in a conservation area in central London. Given this involved a complete demolition and new build with an extra floor on top, getting planning approval was always going to be tricky. Scenario did an amazing job on the new house 'envelope' and throughout the planning phase. We couldn't have wished for better from them and having succeeded in gaining planning approval owe them a very big 'thank you'.
Scenario were great at thinking imaginatively and coming up with a design for a ground floor extension that was more ambitous than other architects we spoke to. They also helped us find a contractor who was able to complete the project working within timescale and our tight budget. I would recommend for mid to large sized projects with sufficient budget to allow for full utilisation of their creativity.
Why do Victorian renovations make up such a large percentage of the British homes you gaze upon in shelter magazines and advertisements? The tall, sturdy, generously proportioned houses make safe and attractive prospects for a family home; they make sense structurally, have plenty of nooks and crannies to exploit and often come on ample plots in which to extend. But mostly Victorians make up the bulk of what you see because they are. The reign of Queen Victoria saw the biggest building boom in the country’s history. In less than 75 years, the UK built more than six million homes, and the majority still stand today. They run the gamut from Gothic, Tudor and Jacobean revival to Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau, many in the familiar terraced configuration. In terms of layout, they established a residential architectural canon we still keep in mind when building today.
Victorian renovations are far more compassionate today than they’ve ever been, with homeowners striving to preserve architectural elements from the era, like decorative cornicing, ceiling roses, skirting boards, dada rails and picture rails. The sash-window industry is still going strong, as 20th-century plastic versions fall out of favour. Where successive residents sealed up or shaved off fireplaces – having a heart in every room seemed unnecessary once central heating had become prevalent – today homeowners are reopening the traditional fireplace, adapting them with gas capability and surrounding them with extravagant marble mantels. Paint companies like Farrow & Ball have built multinational businesses from replicating the de rigueur colours of the Victorian era. In a similar vein, tile companies are bringing back traditional motifs for front gardens and foyers. And lumber companies sell wide reclaimed boards to replicate the knotty oak and pine flooring favoured by the Victorians.
Still most changes among Victorian renovations come in the hardest-working areas, like the kitchen and bathrooms. Recouping space in the loft and side return is particularly common, and with this option available to most Victorian homeowners comes the ability to plumb new areas of the home. Small period kitchens can open up into the side return of a Victorian house without eradicating the period look of the place. And in the recovered space, a corner can be reserved for a toilet room or utility room. Ditto the loft: pushing up the ceiling and pushing out dormer windows can make new space available for an en suite bathroom.
With extending out into dead space comes the welcoming in of natural light. Upward-facing Velux windows become possible once the upper floor is properly extended and the main floor pushed out beyond the confines of the original footprint. If a second-storey extension is permitted in your plans, an internal void can bring natural light from the top floor downwards, and vice versa.
Frequently Asked Questions
- As a dynamic practice operating in London’s premium residential market, managing projects remotely and conducting virtual meetings was a very familiar territory for us, long before the pandemic began and ‘working remotely’ became the norm.
- Our clients have very busy lifestyles and may move between several different locations, both within the UK and beyond, during the lifecycle of a typical project.
- To accommodate such client needs and enable us to run their projects smoothly we had all the technology and know-how associated with remote working in place for several years.
- Read our full (Virtual) Process
- Scenario based design – We start each and every project with a meticulous analysis of our client’s vision, requirements and aspirations. We do this by asking our clients to imagine their everyday scenarios living in the completed house and describe their desired interaction with it.
- Uniquely interactive - Our client’s deep involvement in the process does not stop with completion of the brief. Our design meetings are highly interactive, informal and fun.
- Designed to reflect you – Based purely on your lifestyle, aspirations and requirements and free from externally imposed concepts, metaphors and pre-conceptions, a completely fresh and unique design will gradually emerge and it will tell your story not ours.
- Collaborative – We start the conversation with planners early and advise most of our clients to seek pre-planning advice prior to submission of a full planning application. Our experience shows that when properly consulted and liaised with, most planning case officers will be receptive to conduct a professional dialogue, increasing chances of successes.
- Strategic – We tailor a custom planning strategy for each project based on its circumstances such as planning history, local context and specific challenging elements. We sometimes split applications or introduce minor tweaks to the scheme during the consideration period in conversation with the officers to prevent one contentious element from jeopardising approval of the main scheme.
- Professional – Our experience shows that the quality and clarity of the submission in terms of background research, planning history of the property and context, precedent and of course the arguments presented to support the case has a tremendous effect on success rate.
- The decision period clock only starts ticking once the application is validated by the Council, This requires then to check that the forms are completed correctly and that the submission contains all the necessary drawings, statements and reports.
- Although required by law to provide a decision within the statutory eight weeks period, it is not uncommon for councils to miss the deadline of the consideration period, normally only by a few days, sometimes longer.
- In some cases the council may ask us as your agent for an extension of time, this may be requested due to internal reasons or as an acceptable result of a professional discussion that we are conducting with them about certain aspects of the application that they are not sure about.
- Our experience shows that planning officers respond better to projects when they feel consulted and collaborated with. We find that when we truly listen to their often helpful and valid feedback and treat them as consultants for the projects and not representative of an evil enforcing authority, they tend to collaborate well with us and demonstrate increased flexibility.
- Although the council in theory have eight weeks to consider your application, in practice they are constantly overloaded. They will only look at your application in the last few days of the consideration period. If this is the first time that they come across a scheme that they were never consulted about, our chance to secure permission for you in a single attempt is significantly compromised.
- The standard practice is for the council to consider the full planning application as submitted and then issue a yes or no decision. Case officers are not required or even encouraged to enter a discussion with us or accept resubmission of minor changes to the proposed scheme during the consideration period.