Scenario Architects has rebuffed complaints from local celebrities such as Dame Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton and Jim Broadbent over plans for a new house near Hampstead Cricket Ground.
Stars are attempting to block their planning application for an aluminium-clad contemporary home on the grounds that it would be out of keeping with the Arts & Crafts style of their West Hampstead neighbourhood.
“We respect historic architecture,” Scenario Architects told Homes & Property. “But [we] do not believe, especially given the advances in building methods and technology, that we should be producing it in the 21st Century.”
Sendi and Daniel Young, who work in cryptocurrency and AI respectively, have briefed Scenario Architects to demolish a dilapidated single-storey office building set back from the main road, and replace it with a two-storey home complete with a basement.
A contemporary-style home would be a “significant upgrade” on the existing structure said the architects, rather than attempting to design a “pastiche” of houses “constructed nearly 100 years ago”.
“The design of the scheme has been developed with the intention of improving the contribution of the site to the West End Green Conservation Area through the provision of high quality residential accommodation that is sustainable and modern,” said Scenario Architects. Their proposal includes eco-friendly features such as a green roof and solar panels, while the vertical fins on the facade would prevent solar gain.
But the celebrity inhabitants of north London apparently feel the tech entrepreneurs’ dream home is more befitting of southern California than leafy north London.
In a letter co-signed by Thompson and her actor husband Greg Wise, the couple warned that approving the plans would set a “dangerous precedent” for building more residences on infill plots along their street.The celebrity pair, who met on the set of 1995 film Sense and Sensibility, live together in their £3 million home in West Hampstead.
Wise, who studied architecture at university before pursuing a stage career, said he has “no inherent issues with modern design” but that the proposal was “the wrong design in the wrong place”.
“It would fit in perfectly in Malibu, but not in our conservation area,” he wrote.
The couple pointed out in their letter to the council that they have already suffered through three years of “noisy construction” during two basement digs next door. “I am aware that the people who can now afford to buy in our street can also afford to have 18 months of building work prior to their moving in,” Wise conceded.
Staunton and her husband, Downton Abbey star Jim Carter, did not hold back on their criticism of modern design in their own objection letter. They described the proposed home “a large, looming three-storey aluminium and glass industrial shed”.
Paddington star Broadbent chimed in that the modern design would “radically alter the unique character” of the West End Green Conservation Area.
Hampstead Cricket Club has also submitted an objection, warning that the glass in the facade could dazzle the batters and bowlers, while stray cricket balls could pose a risk to the house and its occupants.
Camden Council is yet to reach a decision on Scenario Architects’ proposal.
In July of this year, councillors granted pop star Dua Lipa permission to extend the basement of her £6.75 million Arts & Crafts style Hampstead home. The Barbie star can go through with her plans to add a subterranean swimming pool, steam room and studio facilities — despite objections from the Redington Frognal Neighbourhood Forum over the potential impact on their conservation area.