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Don’t Move, Improve! 2023 shortlist names London’s best home refurbs

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A low-energy house and a bright yellow extension are among London’s best new home renovations according to this year’s Don’t Move, Improve! shortlist.

There are 15 projects vying to win Don’t Move, Improve! 2023, the latest edition of the annual New London Architecture (NLA) competition that celebrates the capital’s residential architecture.

This year’s theme is called Green Ambitions, which prompted several entries focused on reducing their environmental impact, said NLA.

Among them is Low Energy House by Architecture for London, an Edwardian home that has been retrofitted to improve its energy efficiency for the studio’s founder Ben Ridley.

Meanwhile, Mike Tuck Studio has been shortlisted for its transformation of a Victorian terrace, named Breathable House, using natural materials such as cork and timber.

Interior of Office S&M's Graphic House
Top image: A low-energy house by Architecture for London is shortlisted for Don’t Move, Improve! 2023. Photo by Lorenzo Zandri. Above: Office S&M’s Graphic House is also on the list. Photo by French + Tye

Another stand-out theme in this year’s shortlist is the use of bright colours, as seen in the Graphic House renovation by Office S&M that draws on the owner’s penchant for graphic design and art deco forms.

Other colourful renovations include Colour Casing, an extension to a one-bed flat designed by District Architects, and the CLT House by Unknown Works, which has a bright yellow exterior to help distinguish between its old and new elements.

However, minimalism remains a relevant trend in residential architecture, with a number of pared-back designs also selected for the 2023 shortlist from over 130 entries.

These include Elizabeth Mews by Trewhela Williams, a mews house renovation in north London with a louvred oak facade, and DB Apartment by Studio Hallet Ike, a dark brick extension to London flat.

Several homes on the shortlist prioritised establishing a connection to nature and the outdoors, such as Banya and Garden Studio by Cooke Fawcett and Black and Milk – a garden room with large, glazed sliding doors that overlook surrounding woodland in Camden.

Kitchen in the Woods by A Small Studio and Walled Garden by Nimtim Architects are other shortlisted projects in which celebrating surrounding landscapes was a key element.

The remaining projects on the shortlist include The Secret Garden Flat by Nic Howett Architect and Brückenhaus by R2 Studio.

White Patio House by Pashenko Works, Rotherfield Street by Atelier Baulier and the Lubetkin apartments by Studio Naama also made the cut.

Elizabeth Mews by Trewhela Williams
Elizabeth Mews by Trewhela Williams is among the minimalist homes to be shortlisted. Photo is by Lorenzo Zandri

The Don’t Move, Improve! 2023 shortlist was selected by Buro Happold associate Anna Beckett, Coffey Architects director Phil Coffey, engineering firm Hilson Moran’s sustainability director Marie-Louise Schembri and Wallpaper Magazine‘s architecture editor Ellie Stathaki.

This year’s overall winner will be revealed at a ceremony on 24 May at The London Centre, alongside other prizes including the Environmental Leadership Prize and Compact Design Prize.

Previous overall winners of the Don’t Move, Improve! include Archmongers’ “practical and playful” refurbishment of a home on Dulwich Estate and The House Recast by Studio Ben Allen.

Scroll down for the full Don’t Move, Improve! 2023 shortlist:


Banya and Garden Studio by Cooke Fawcett and Black and Milk
Photo is by Philip Durrant

Banya and Garden Studio by Cooke Fawcett and Black and Milk


Elizabeth Mews by Trewhela Williams
Photo is by Lorenzo Zandri

Elizabeth Mews by Trewhela Williams


Breathable House by Mike Tuck Studio
Photo is by Luca Piffaretti

Breathable House by Mike Tuck Studio


CLT House by Unknown Works

CLT House by Unknown Works


Brückenhaus by R2 Studio Architects
Photo is by Andy Stagg

Brückenhaus by R2 Studio Architects


Colour Casing by District Architects
Photo is by Megan Taylor

Colour Casing by District Architects


Kitchen in the Woods by A Small Studio
Photo is by Manuel Vasquez

Kitchen in the Woods by A Small Studio


The Secret Garden Flat by Nic Howett Architect
Photo is by Henry Woide

The Secret Garden Flat by Nic Howett Architect


DB Apartment by Studio Hallet Ike
Photo is by Ståle Eriksen

DB Apartment by Studio Hallet Ike


Rotherfield Street by Atelier Baulier
Photo is by Henry Woide

Rotherfield Street by Atelier Baulier


Graphic House by Office S&M
Photo is by French + Tye

Graphic House by Office S&M


Low Energy House by Architecture for London
Photo is by Lorenzo Zandri

Low Energy House by Architecture for London


Lubetkin Apartments by Studio Naama

Lubetkin Apartments by Studio Naama


Walled Garden by Nimtim Architects
Photo is by Jim Stephenson

Walled Garden by Nimtim Architects


White Patio House by Pashenko Works
Photo is by Stijn Bollart

White Patio House by Pashenko Works

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