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Tsuruta Architects’ House of Trace wins RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize

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Tsuruta Architects’ ‘beautiful and unconventional’ extension to an end-of-terrace family home in South London has won the 2016 Stephen Lawrence Prize


The £247,000 London house extension saw off competition from Ash Sakula’s’ Exhibition Mews, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects’ Mellor Primary School, Coffey Architects’ Modern Side Extension, The Observatory by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Henning Stummel’s Tin House to win the prize, which recognises a project built for under £1 million.

Demolishing the house’s original extension, the practice incorporated its memory into the rear elevation of the new extension to create the ‘suprising and delightful’ winning scheme.

Contrasting brickwork marks where the existing building meets the new extension. The sloping roofline has been surrounded by pale-coloured brickwork distinguishing old and new. 

Tsuruta Architects was founded in 2006 by Taro Tsuruta, a Japanese architect who studied for his Part 2 at the Architectural Association in London before working at a number of major practices, including Hopkins Architects and Eric Parry Architects. 

The £5,000 prize, which is supported by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation, was set up in memory of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was setting out on the road to becoming an architect when he was murdered in 1993. It is intended to encourage fresh talent working with smaller budgets.

The contest was judged by Marco Goldschmied, who established the award in 1998, together with Doreen Lawrence, stephen’s mother, and last year’s winner, Níall McLaughlin.

Goldschmied said: ‘It is always encouraging to see a vibrant young practice recognised through the Stephen Lawrence Prize and I am delighted that Tsuruta Architects is this year’s winner. House of Trace is a clever and creative response to the terraced house extension – congratulations to the architects and clients for their combined talent and ambition.’

The Stephen Lawrence Prize has previously been won by architects including Duggan Morris, Alison Brooks Architects, Denizen Works and Cottrell & Vermeulen.

Judge’s comment by Níall McLaughlin

‘The brief for a typical London back extension has been interpreted here in an unusually inventive way. The rear return has been retained and enlarged. The architect has painstakingly preserved the very ordinary construction of stock bricks and brought it into a tense, even mannered, relationship with the new work. It allows a strong charge to exist between continuity and change.

‘In the interior, most of the new construction is marked by the systematic use of CNC-cut plywood, bound together with simple tenon joints. This technique extends to many elements, from spatial enclosure to furniture. It allows an elaborate interplay to develop between the aged and weathered elements of the old house and the systematic, prefabricated nature of the new work. The plywood is subtly marked with routed assembly instructions and the occasional stray cartoon character. 

‘This conflation of the systematic and the winsome has a peculiarly Japanese quality that playfully pulls against the stolid character of the Victorian shell. The architect has a very sure sense of situation and every room feels easy and natural. The balance between quotidian domestic life and architectural poise is highly successful. It reminds us that invention thrives in intimate contact with ordinary life.’

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

Source: Tim Crocker

Ground floor plan

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

First floor plan

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects


House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

Exploded axonometric

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

Project data

Location Lewisham, London
Type of project House extension
Client Undisclosed
Architect Tsuruta Architects
Structural engineer Tall Engineers
Main contractor Karas, Zarzyczny Vasylyuk
Funding Private
Tender date April 2014
Start on site date May 2014
Completion date January 2015
Gross internal floor area 110m²
Form of contract Part JCT MW and direct contract
Total cost £247,000
Cost per £2,245

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