Refurbishment of a second-floor apartment forming part of a 1920s building in the Brompton area of South Kensington. The project involved a complete redesign of its layout to accommodate the needs of the family.
With a gross internal area of circa 160 sq. meters, this was a rather disproportionate, double aspect, one bedroom apartment. It did, however, have plenty of natural light, good floor to ceiling height and beautifully proportioned windows throughout.
Location: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London
Kitchen Design: Boffi
LIght & Sound: Innovate Smart Building Systems
Structural Engineer: Structural Engineering Services
Empire House is a 5 storey former showroom, storage and offices of the Continental Tyre and Rubber
Company. Built in1909 , it was converted to shops and apartments in 1925.
The grade 2 building was recent listed for its positive contribution to its surroundings at street level and despite some noteworthy features within the common parts of the building, the many alterations that followed its change of use (from office to apartments) in 1925 left very little sign of any original features within the apartments we visited.
Number 24 in particular, had an austere interior which made very little sense of the volume of space available. With 156 sq m , at purchase, it was a one bedroom apartment.
As heads of a family with grown up children who lived away from home, the clients were looking to downsize while still provide the children with space to stay over.
The original layout provided a poor use of the space and the voluminous proportions of the apartment and despite the footprint of circa 150s qm , it did not offer appropriate accommodation for family living.
The mother of the family, who has a keen eye for design came to us with a bundle of ideas and together we worked through those to consolidate them under the same roof.
Having looked at the existing structural grid, we decided to embrace its rationality and use it to defile the rooms and their uses.
The beams helped us order the space placing the emphasis on the volume of each room . They also helped accentuate the window openings which on the living spaces, where the boxing of radiators, had visually shortened the reveals in which both windows and balcony doors sit .
Another clear decision we made was to separate the day time uses form the evening ones in order to provide a degree of privacy to each of the occupiers on what essentially is a very open layout.
FSC approved timbers and non toxic paints were used throughout.
In order to create the illusion of space the client was keen for us to find a way to hide the doors and at concept stage we decided to use traditional paneling, to conceal doors as well as wardrobe doors.
Another client request was the use of a large plaster cornice. This is their favorite cornice and having used it in the past, they were determined to use it again in the project. The cornice and the speakers lowered the ceiling below the window lines making difficult to fit the curtains in the traditional way. Hence we created a recess where they could slot in hidden from view.
Among those we had worked with in the past, Italian kitchen manufacturer Boffi were the client's choice.
Due to the nature of the space, where by the kitchen is visible from the living room, we decided to design the kitchen in a way that would conceal their domestic nature.
The rear of the kitchen is made out of tall units with doors which slide in between the units when opened. From left to right: laundry cupboard, ladder, oven and microwave unit, sink unit with a hot tap, second oven unit and double fridge.
The island, covered in Markina marble provides both opportunities for sitting and cooking in its minimalist Pitt hob rings .