Richard Keep Architects: 32 Laurier Road – the urban oasis

Architecture / 17 Mar 2020

3 new zinc boxes create top floor living accommodation and roof terraces, capping the original brick 1930’s converted house on a prominent corner of Dartmouth Park Conservation Area. This project –  32 Laurier Road by Richard Keep Architects has won the ‘Urban Oasis of the Year’ in the NLA’s Don’t Move, Improve! 2020 awards.

The previous house sat uncomfortably on this corner amongst much grander houses. New roof extensions were located to increase the stature and coherence of the corner plot with all new elements built in zinc making a clear distinction between old and new and complimenting the materials of the conservation area.


The 3 boxes respond to the offset brick sections beneath giving the appearance of two 3_storey houses facing Laurier Road and a 2_storey house facing York Rise.

A new separate entrance and front garden give access to the upper flat. Bedrooms occupy the lower level and lower zinc box. The living accommodation was moved to the top floor to maximise day/sunlight and take advantage of fantastic views of surrounding streets and Highgate Hill.

The new corner box contains the living room and is set back to create a corner balcony. The end block contains the kitchen with the dining room and herb terrace in the gap between. The living spaces open onto a large private roof terrace on top of the lower zinc box.

The finned detailing of the facades perform a number of functions: to orient each zinc box to address the respective streets, to give the facade a rhythm which nods to the neighbouring houses, and to provide privacy from long street views. Glazed sections of fins line with the existing windows beneath, tying the new with the host building beneath. The fins are specifically angled to open up the best views from the rooms.

The judges admired how Laurier Road extended a simple post war block to create a great rooftop space with outside terraces and view across the neighbourhood. They praised its outstanding contextual design, the generosity of light in every room and the strong connection it created with its surroundings.

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: Ben Blossom

Image courtesy of NLA

Richard Keep Architects

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