Dezeen Magazine

A minimalist bedroom inside a London flat
The minimal ER Residence by Studio Hallett Ike

Don't Move, Improve! 2021 shortlist spotlights London's best house renovations

A minimalist charred-wood extension, a garden studio wrapped in green terrazzo and an origami-inspired annexe are in the running to be crowned London's best home improvement of 2021.

A total of 22 projects have been shortlisted for this year's Don't Move, Improve! contest – an annual competition held by New London Architecture (NLA) in celebration of the "diversity and character of homes being redesigned" in the UK capital.

The awards programme is open to any home-improvement project that has completed in the last two years in any of London's 33 boroughs.

Among the other projects recognised in the shortlist are a revamp of a Walter Segal self-build house, a sculptural precast extension by Studio Ben Allen and a mountain-like addition to an Edwardian residence.

Office S&M's colourful remodel of a Georgian townhouse is also in the running, alongside a pink-hued concrete extension it has added to a home in Haringey.

While competing to be the overall winner, shortlisted entries can also win seven "special prizes". These include the Compact Design of the Year, the Environmental Leadership Prize and the Most Unique Character Award.

This year, there is also the WFH Design of the Year award, which will be given to the project that best supports working from home.

The judging panel for 2021 is headed up by NLA's curator-in chief Peter Murray and includes architects Amin Taha of Groupwork and Melissa Dowler of Bell Phillips.

Grand Designs Magazine editor Karen Stylianides is also on the team, alongside Whitby Wood's Sebastian Wood, property journalist Kunle Barker, Tom Foxall of Historic England and managing director of NLA Tamsie Thomson.

The panel said that while this year's shortlisted projects vary in budget and briefs, each design is underpinned by an ambition to provide homeowners with functional and contemporary living spaces.

"We have seen projects that are muted and some with hyper-trendy futuristic colour palettes, in every case though, the top 100, and especially the shortlist have impressed us with the way in which they address the needs of the homeowner, which of course, is the most important function of a home," reflected Thomson.

Winners will be announced later this year at an invite-only exhibition. Previous overall winners include a double-height extension in Lambeth, a residence with a sunken Japanese-style bath and a home built within an abandoned chapel.

Here's the full Don't Move, Improve! 2021 shortlist:

A wood-clad house extension with a green roof
Photo is by Adam Scott

A Cloistered House, Lambeth, by Turner Architects

A colourful house renovation in London with arched openings
Photo is by French + Tye

 Amott Road, Peckham, by Alexander Owen Architecture

A small garden studio in London with a hammock
Photo is by Tom Cronin

Claire and Tom's House, Waltham Forest, by Zminkowska De Boise Architects

The earthy-hued dining interiors of a London house
Photo is by Jim Stephenson

Council House Renovation, Southwark, by VATRAA

A white-walled kitchen with wooden furnishings
Photo is by Chris Snook

Elmfield Road, Waltham Forest, by Eckford Chong

A charred-wood extension with a large window
Photo is by Ståle Eriksen

ER Residence, Hackney, by Studio Hallett Ike

The wood-lined kitchen of a London house
Photo is by Megan Taylor

Fruit Box, Lewisham, by Nimtim Architects

A two-storey house extension in London
Photo is by Killian O'Sullivan

Grain House, Hackney, by Hayhurst & Co Architects

The wood-lined dining room in a townhouse
Photo is by Richard Chivers

House in Hackney by YARD Architects

A green and white bathroom made from precast concrete
Photo is by French+Tye

The House Recast, Haringey, by Studio Ben Allen

The pastel-hued interiors of a house extension
Photo is by Ivan Jones

Lydford Road, Haringey, by Artefact

A colourful kitchen with blue cabinetry and pink tiles
Photo is by French + Tye

Mo-Tel House, Islington, by Office S&M

A colourful house extension with a grey mountain-like facade
Photo is by Jim Stephenson

Mountain View, Bromley, by CAN

An angular wooden annexe outside a London townhouse
Photo is by Agnese Sanvito

Origami House, Ealing, by KSKa Architects

A pink-hued concrete extension with green detailing
Photo is by Megan Taylor

Overcast House, Haringey, by Office S&M

A small light-brick residential extension
Photo is by Christian Brailey

Peckham Rye House, by Draper Studio

A self-build house in London with black cladding
Photo is by Taran Wilkhu

The Segal House, Lewisham, by Fraher and Findlay Architects

A small glass-lined garden studio
Photo is by Andy Stagg

St Mary's House, Lambeth, by Paul Archer Design

A wood-lined dining room in a London house
Photo is by OEB Architects

Summerhill Road, Haringey, by OEB Architects

A garden studio clad in green terrazzo
Photo is by Sarah Burton

Terrazzo Studio, Hackney, by Sonn Studio

A wood-lined children's bedroom
Photo is by French + Tye

Two and a Half Storey House, Hackney, by Bradley Van Der Straeten Architects

An angular white-walled bedroom with a skylight
Photo is by Richard Chivers

Umfreville Road, Haringey, by The DHaus Company Ltd