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House Renovation in the North East UK

Most of the United Kingdom is urbanized with almost no area for new residential projects on most of the bigger cities. Space is a premium asset that can blow up the budget of a family. Because of that, most people in the big cities of UK live in terraces, flats or micro-flats that weren’t designed thinking in their way of living. Instead of buying or building a new house, a more affordable approach is house renovation.

This renovation trend started in London, were a few strategies and challenges that are more common. One of the challenges is the design restriction that are imposed on buildings located on conservation areas. These are regions that are designated to safeguard areas of architectural or historic interest, the character and appearance of which it is desirable to preserve. Often, houses that are in these areas must pass a strict aesthetic code to get a planning permission. In London, there are 27 conservation areas. However, not only Londoners has to face this problem. There are over 10.000 conservation areas in the United Kingdom[1]. Architects in the North East UK, also have the same problem. There are, according to Durham County Council[2], 93 conservation areas in County Durham, and, according to North Tyneside Council[3], 17 conservation areas in North Tyneside.

One of strategies that can be used when renovating a historic building is to use contrasting materials and elements on the areas that we are renovating or extending. By contrast, we create surfaces and volumes that helps others understand what is new and what is original in the building and, by using materials that are now more available to us, we also can solve problems, like the lack of natural light and natural ventilation, that didn’t have an affordable solution when the house was built. Glass and metal are some of the most popular materials used to cause contrast in house renovations.

Another challenge that architects most face is finding a way to enhance the quality of life of their clients. One way of doing this while working with the strategy related above is creating openings made of glass. According to a research made about the impact of natural light on our overall health[4], daylight exposure is important to promote longer and better sleep and has a potential to make people more physically active. Crittall doors, windows and akylights allow plenty of natural light to enter the interior of the house.

Since the clients wanted a design that enhanced their quality of life and their original house had a lack of natural light, part of the design focused on creating new openings that lead to more daylight exposure. Below we can see, when comparing the first image with the second, how the architects used crittall doors, windows and skylights to allow plenty of natural light to enter the interior of the house.

However, most of the conservation areas restrictions only allow these solutions to be used on the back of the house, creating a new problem: how brighten the rest of the house with natural light without creating new openings. One popular solution is to open the floor layout, specially the ground floor, knocking down walls that divide the kitchen, living and dining area. By doing this, we allow the light to flow freely inside the house without creating new openings.

Through a close collaboration with their clients and with a strategic approach to the planning process, changes can be made that allow the house to access a greater amount of daylight and create a better flow between each room. These improvements not only have a potential to improve the quality of life of the clients, but likewise increased the overall value of the house.

[1] HISTORIC ENGLAND. “What is a Conservation Area?”. Retrieved June 07, 2019 (

[2] DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL. “Conservation Areas”. Retrieved June 07, 2019 (

[3] NORTH TYNESIDE COUNCIL. “Conservation Areas in North Tyneside”. Retrieved June 07, 2019 (

[4] Boubekri M, Cheung IN, Reid KJ, Wang CH, Zee PC. Impact of windows and daylight exposure on overall health and sleep quality of office workers: a case-control pilot study. J Clin Sleep Med 2014;10(6):603-611.


4 Frank Lloyd Wright villas for rent

Have you ever dreamt about sleeping in one of the many villas designed by the iconic architect? Here is our selection of the most beautiful homes you can book for your next architectural travel experience.


Cornwall House in Kohala, Hawaii

Originally designed for the Cornwell family in Pennsylvania in 1954, this house embodies the main principles of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture. With its structure perched on Waiaka Creek in the heart of the archipelago’s “big island” Hawaii, offering both an ocean and volcano view. The house was abandoned for several years for unknown reasons, the project resurfaced in 1984 thanks to Reginald Sanderson Sims, an advertiser from Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, who was passionate about the work of the famous architect.

Completed in 1995, the house alone synthesizes all the codes that made the architect’s success: a curved structure, large bay windows, wooden ceilings and a Cherokee red concrete floor and furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright himself. With three bedrooms and three bathrooms, it has one hectare of land to fully enjoy the surrounding nature.

From $800/night;



Elam House in Austin, Minnesota

With more than 100 windows, Elam House is the second largest Usonian house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Designed on a triangular base, this 1950s house is one of the architect’s most emblematic models with its sloping roof, cantilevered balcony and large limestone pillars.

Although he only used photos of the land to design this project, having never set foot on it, he took particular care in building it, two years having been necessary to transport and sculpt the stone that makes up a large part of the residence. Inside, the walls and ceilings in stone and white cypress recall the architect’s preference for natural materials.

From $260/night;



The Palmer House in the forest of Ann Arbor, Michigan

This angular house built on the model of an equilateral triangle illustrates the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. It has almost no right angles. Some of the furniture like the beds designed by the architect, even has an astonishing hexagonal shape. The brick structure blends perfectly into the two hectares of forest that surround it and here again the windows blur the boundary between the inside and the outside of the house.

Another particularity: the land has a “tea house” accessible from the garden, built after Wright’s death in 1959 by one of his proteges, John H. Howe, at the request of the Palmer family, who owned the house from 1950 to 2009.



Woodside House in Marion, Indiana.

Located a stone’s throw from Matter Park, Indiana, Woodside House was built in 1952 by Frank Lloyd Wright after he met Dr. Richard Davis at a Minnesota clinic when he was undergoing surgery. The two men sympathized and the architect immediately suggested imagining a family home for the couple hoping to have four children.

The residence, designed by Wright from a distance based on photos of the grounds, will have five bedrooms and four bathrooms. In harmony with the natural environment so dear to the architect, it combines the influences of Lake Tahoe cottages and Amerindian Sioux tipis.

From $400/night;

Scofidio and Diller Win Royal Academy Prize for Architecture

The Royal Academy has honoured American couple, Ricardo Scofidio and Liz Diller—architects who are responsible for the design of the proposed concert hall for the London Centre for Music, with the Royal Academy Architecture award 2019.

The Royal Academy Architecture prize, which is just in its second year, is targeted towards recognizing architects whose projects contribute to culture with huge effects on the public. Japanese architect, Itsuko Hasegawa is the only other recipient of this award.

The husband and wife team who are perhaps more popularly known for designing the 1.5 mile-long High Line in New York were recognized for their enduring contribution to architecture and the Royal Academy judges have described their partnership as ‘innovative’. The panel which was chaired by Alan Stanton (co-founder Stanton Williams) and made of top players in the field of architecture like Ricky Burdett (LSE Cities director), Louisa Hutton (co-founder Sauerbruch Hutton) among others, made the decision unanimously.

The Jury Chair, Alan Staton has praised the duo for not settling for the normal, choosing instead to reinvent the basic principles of architecture. He also explained that Scofidio and Diller’s current cultural projects have been affected positively by the choice to stand out from the crowd and this has made even the most reputable of architects envious of their projects.

Liz Diller, in response to Royal Academy’s recognition award, said it causes a reminiscing on their earlier projects. Even though they are famous for the High Line in New York and the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, she said their earlier works were experimental. Though 1981 marked the year they began working together (when they founded Diller Scofidio + Renfro in New York), Liz revealed that it took determination for their (largely) experimental ideas to begin to push the boundaries of architecture, becoming the innovative concepts they were now being recognized for.

The Royal Academy Architecture prize 2019 is not the only recognition award the couple has received recently—especially Diller who was on Time magazine’s list of top 100 most influential people for 2018. She also won the 2019 Jane Drew Prize, making her the more popular figure of the duo.

The Centre for Music’s new concert hall and MoMA’s major expansion are projects they are currently working on at the moment. The architects will have the opportunity to speak about the projects at the upcoming Royal Academy Dorfman Award that is expected to come up in May. The Dorfman award is a different award that is used to honour architectural prospects.

Mr Stanton has revealed this year’s shortlist of the Dorfman Award will give recognition to young architects all around the world whose impacts are felt through their work in the face of daunting political and societal odds.

This year, the jury has already identified the finalist which include the following names:

• Mariam Kamara (Atelier Masomi) from Niger
• Boonserm Premthada (Bangkok Project Studio) from Thailand
• Cian Deegan and Alice Casey (Taka) from Ireland
• Fernanda Canales from Mexico

The winner of this award will win the £10,000 attached to this award.