Proctor and Shaw: Soffit House transforms the spaces with simplicity

Architecture / 20 Mar 2020

The overall winner of the 2020 series of Don’t Move. Improve! is The Soffit House by Proctor and Shaw – a rear extension that creates flexible spaces whilst adding a generous double height volume. Slicing through the house, a new void has been created with careful attention to the level changes between the basement and garden levels. A timber soffit finished in warm oak battens works to unite both the old and the new.

This terrace house refurbishment and ‘infill’ rear extension creates flexible living, dining, kitchen and study spaces whilst adding generous double height volume and abundant light to a previously dark interior. 


A dank rear external alley space has been brought into the house with the addition of a double height infill’ glazed extension to create a light-filled living room connecting new dining, kitchen and study spaces, whilst allowing lovely views through the house to gardens front and back.

The repeating ‘hit and miss’ pattern of the existing terrace rear returns presented the opportunity to create a private and vertically generous infill extension, since the party wall was both unusually tall and windowless as a result of this arrangement. 

Finished in a beautifully crafted traditional parquet Portland Limestone, the new excavated floor level creates a more comfortable ‘middle ground’ between garden and basement levels without ceiling heights being compromised. 

The rich material qualities of the floor are matched above with a timber soffit finished in warm oak battens. Its planed surfaces contrast with the knarled patina of the refurbished existing timber floor boards. The oak soffit sweeps upwards at the existing house, revealing a frameless glass opening to sky allowing daylight Into the heart of the house. 

The study at entrance level enjoys a mezzanine relationship with the new spaces, with frames views over a frameless balustrade across the new double height space to the garden and beyond, through a huge new pivot glazed aluminium door and clerestorey above. 

A repositioned WC and utility gathered around the existing staircase create a serviced ‘core’ at the heart of the lower ground floor. New bathrooms upstairs and decoration throughout complete the architectural works. 

Soffit House is a wonderful example of how the space and light in a terraced house can be enhanced by good design. The judges enjoyed how this simple addition transformed the sense of space and connected the areas of the house with each other and the garden – a beautifully understated and generous home!

About DMI

Don’t Move, Improve! is a competition hosted by New London Architecture (NLA) – an independent forum for discussion, debate and information about architecture and construction in the capital – celebrating London’s best and most innovative home extensions and improvements.

Photography: Radu Palicica

Image courtesy of NLA

Proctor and Shaw

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