2017 London Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Image Credit : Agnese Sanvito





Project Overview

The renovation and remodelling of an existing, Grade II-listed Victorian property in the St John’s Wood conservation area in London. The scheme included the creation of a brand-new lower-ground floor and rear extension, creating in the process an elegant, new, light-filled and generously-apportioned family home over four storeys, with a spectacular feature staircase creating a central focal point. The new space plan extended the property’s internal volume from 165 sq m to 246 sq m.

Project Commissioner

Private client

Project Creator

Neil Tomlinson Architects


Neil Tomlinson
Borja Santoro Gutierrez
Joaquin Roca Arribas
Emma Jayne Hunter

Project Brief

The brief for the new family home was for a complete remodelling of the interior spaces of the property, to include not only a new lower-ground storey and rear extension, but also to ensure excellent natural light ingress to ensure the whole property felt light, bright and spacious. The house was to have open, flowing and linked living spaces on the lower two storeys and to include a master suite and two further bedrooms on the upper floors. A fourth bedroom and living quarters were also to be included on the new lower ground floor for a live-in nanny, along with a utility room.

Project Innovation/Need

Neil Tomlinson Architects created a glazed area in the property’s courtyard garden, so that a 1m x 4.9m lightwell, located directly above a new kitchen on the lower ground floor, would ensure natural light flowed into all the lower ground spaces.

The new lower-ground floor includes an all-white kitchen, for maximum reflectivity, with carrara marble worktops and marble-topped breakfast bar, leading to a dining area lit by a line of elegant pendants suspended from a new ceiling raft directly above the dining table. The whole space is bright, clean and spacious, with the spectacular new, glass-walled feature staircase a central feature, linking the spaces to the open-plan living area above on the ground floor.

An existing staircase was retained on the upper floors to maintain the integrity of the house, allowing the architects to join on from the flow of the original staircase to create the stunning new stair rising from the lower ground up through the ground floor to the first floor and ensuring the two main living spaces were linked, visible and connected, as well as filled with light. The new, glazed, L-shaped ‘tube of air’ this created allowed for a 9-point grid chandelier to be dropped dramatically down through the stair void.

Design Challenge

The new suspended staircase, made of seasoned walnut treads with a balustrade made up of 27 stainless steel 10mm diameter rods, as well as a bespoke, double-rod handrail, was a highly complex piece of design and structural engineering.

The stair creates a permeable circulation route through the house, ensuring the overall effect is both voluminous and well lit, which is achieved through its glazed surround using fire-rated glass from Pilkington. This represented the greatest challenge in the scheme: ensuring that the desired effect of interconnectivity and maximum light and air was achieved, whilst at the same time meeting building regulations and ensuring the building’s fire rating – and also designing a structurally-engineered suspended stair.

As the outer glass could not have anything bolted onto or through it, as this would compromise the fire rating, the staircase structure includes magnetic doors that flip shut to create fire-safety integrity, along with stainless steel support plates set into the walnut timber treads and risers on the outside edge, so that the whole stair could be suspended successfully on its inner edge, as well as being supported by an L-shaped steel frame suspended from the ceiling.


Retention of the house’s existing staircase on the upper two floors.

The lighting system consists of LED dimmable lighting throughout which are controlled by a Lutron unit. The heating is provided by a very efficient gas Vaillant Ecotec boiler.

The heat is kept in the house by super insulating the existing external walls, subterranean lower ground floor, the low level slab and the loft space above the house.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes and aesthetic presentation. Consideration also given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
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