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Transformed Georgian townhouse named as London's best home extension

A north London townhouse renovation that re-imagines the entire scope of urban home and garden design has won a coveted architecture award for the most innovative home extension in the capital.

First prize at tonight’s Don’t Move, Improve 2018 awards, hosted by New London Architecture (NLA), went to the Sun Rain Rooms, a two-storey extension and restoration of a Grade-II listed Georgian townhouse in Islington.

Architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu designed and built the project to use as their own home and practice studio, featuring the work of local crafts people.

The stand-out feature of the winning project is the incredible undulating roof overlooking the courtyard, which gathers rainwater in a harvesting tank.

At the push of a button, the tank floods the patio transforming it into a reflecting pool offering “a fine example of how creative design can deliver innovative solutions that reinterpret the way we use garden space – even to the extent of enjoying rain!” according to the chairman of NLA, Peter Murray.

The multi-purpose space under the roof works as both a living space and a professional meeting area, while a mirrored wall in the covered outdoor area conceals a workshop, cooking area, tool shed, store and deep planter for the trees on the green roof above.

The existing basement was extended beneath the patio to add a bedroom, two bathrooms and a plant-filled lightwell.

“Sun Rain Rooms is so exciting and glamorous – there’s so much happening and it’s a total transformation that makes your heart sing. It’s completely innovative,” said judge and Homes & Property journalist, Philippa Stockley. 


Second prize was awarded to Dewsbury Road in Brent by O’Sullivan Skoufoglou Architects. The home extension uses oak and ash wood, both of which are sacred in Irish mythology, to reference the owner’s roots.

Bayston Road in Hackney by Al-Jawad Pike and The Etch House in Lewisham by Fraher Architects were awarded joint third prize.

The award for Best Historic Intervention went to the Water Tank on top of Grade-II listed Keeling House, Denys Lasdun’s residential tower block in Bethnal Green.

The 653sq ft space has been cleverly configured by the owner and architect Brian Heron and his wife Ayesha into a one-bedroom penthouse. It has an open plan living-room and kitchen area on the 17th floor and a child’s bed located underneath a double bed in the only bedroom on the 18th floor.

An upcycled addition to a brownfield industrial heritage site in Camden, the Pop-Up Ute project by Friend and Company Architects, was named the Most Innovative project of the year.

Joint Best Use of Materials was awarded to Office S&M and Manalo & White, while Best Value went to MW Architects.

Last year’s winner was ‘The Sunken Bath’, a Victorian terrace in Clapton transformed by clever use of a side return to include a glass garden room, Japanese plunge pool and copper kitchen.


The competition celebrates great design and multi-functional rooms in a city where space often has to work twice as hard to accommodate the needs of homeowners.

Thirty home extension projects were selected for the shortlist from over 200 submissions of extensions, studios and garden rooms.

The winning projects will be featured in a three-month exhibition of London’s 120 best home extension projects at NLA’s Galleries at The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1E 7BT, from 26 January to 20 April 2018.

NLA will also be hosting free design surgeries throughout the year offering free one-to-one consultations with the winning architects, expert talks and family workshops. The first of these will be on Saturday, 24 February. 

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