The Secret Backyard Flat has been voted London’s finest new construct renovation

The Secret Backyard Flat has been voted London’s finest new construct renovation

An apartment renovated by studio Nic Howett Architect that “feels like an oasis” was chosen by Don’t Move Improve! voted London’s Best New Home Improvement Project! 2023

Dubbed The Secret Garden Flat, Nic Howett Architect’s ground floor home was selected as the overall winner from a shortlist of 15 homes published in April.

The jury praised it for showing “how a very high standard of craftsmanship can be achieved with a small budget”.

The Secret Garden Flat won Don’t Move Improve! 2023

“The Secret Garden is full of surprises,” said Judge Marie-Louise Schembri, director of sustainability at engineering firm Hilson Moran.

“This beautiful home in a very busy and dense part of London feels like an oasis and has cemented existing neighborhood and family communities,” she continued.

“The transformation process tells a story of vision, perseverance, collaboration and organic growth.”

Wood lined interior of a London houseThe renovated apartment was designed by Nic Howett Architect

Now in its 13th year, Don’t Move Improve! Awards is an annual competition by New London Architecture (NLA) to recognize the best home improvement projects from across the British capital.

This year’s winning Secret Garden project was designed by its founder, Nic Howett, who lives there with his family.

Bedroom of The Secret Garden Flat by Nic Howett ArchitectA bedroom was added as part of an extension

The project involved the conversion of a small, uncomfortable apartment in Southwark with the aim of maximizing space and shifting the focus of the main living areas from the street to the garden.

It included a one bedroom extension and a secluded garden studio extension for working from home, all hand built by Howett and his team from a range of simple materials including wood.

London garden studioThere is also a garden studio

“Before we built, our backyard and basement apartment were separate,” Howett explained.

“Now indoor and outdoor spaces interact in a way that makes them inseparable, providing an outdoor living space for the family in summer, a quiet and serene workspace in the shelter of neighboring trees, and immersion in the changing seasons of comfort and… warmth of our bed.”

CLT House by Unknown Works

Don’t move, improve! The 2023 Shortlist recognizes London’s best home renovations

In addition to “The Secret Garden”, seven other shortlisted projects were awarded special prizes.

These include the Environmental Leadership Prize, awarded to the Low Energy House designed by Architecture for London for its founder Ben Ridley, and the Unique Character Prize, won to CLT House by Unknown Works.

Workspace in The Secret Garden Flat by Nic Howett ArchitectThe design aims to create a connection to the garden

Meanwhile, R2 Studio received the Materiality and Craftsmanship Prize for its Bridge House project, A Small Studio won the Urban Oasis Prize for Kitchen in the Woods and Studio Naama won the Compact Design Prize for the Lubetkin Apartment.

The last two awards were the Transformation Prize, awarded by Trewhela Williams to Elizabeth Mews, and Best Project Under £100,000, awarded by District Architects to Color Casing.

In addition to Hilson Moran’s Sustainability Director, Schembri, this year’s panel of judges also included Anna Beckett, Associate of Buro Happold, Phil Coffey, Director of Coffey Architects, and Ellie Stathaki, Architecture Editor of Wallpaper Magazine.

Previous award winners include a “practical and playful” makeover of Little Brownings and The House Recast by Studio Ben Allen.

The photograph is by Henry Woide.


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