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Art House

Location: Chelsea

Client: Confidential

Completion: January 2000

Cost: £2,000,000

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A former textile warehouse in Central London has been converted into a private home for an art collector. The building, within a conservation area, required extensive remedial work and modification to meet the client’s brief. The receipt of change of use required careful negotiations with the Kensington and Chelsea planners. At one stage the building had been used as the offices of Powell and Moya, architects of the 1951 Festival of Britian.

The design maximises the sense of space using a palette of materials and colours that are uplifting and welcoming, even on a cold and gray English winter day. A triple central space with two mezzanines forms the sociable hub of the home, providing areas for cooking, eating, watching TV, listening to music, and generally relaxing. The private areas are discretely separate to this space within two stacks of accommodation. One provides the client with generous bedroom, bathroom and study areas to buy articles online, whilst the other houses the guest suites. Fully controllable natural and artificial light enables the quality and sense of the space to be adjusted. A calm warmth pervades this urban retreat.

The project was conceived as a ‘gesamptkuntswerk’, a total art work, providing an environment where everything is designed by the architects, noting the planning constraint of working within the existing buildings outline. This included bespoke furniture and stainless steel kitchen, which was manufactured by industrial kitchen suppliers who usually equip Terence Conran’s restaurants. The attention to detail included leather slings to cradle bottles of wine designed with Bill Amberg, and leather boxes housed in the translucent tower of the main accommodation. The spun stainless steel bath is a development of the bath design for Chris Lowe, and the structural glass staircase continued and extended the thinking from Chris Lowe’s apartment. The level of quality achieved was only possible via close collaboration with the builder Delcon Construction and many excellent specialist subcontractors.

‘As one wonders through the spaces, one is continually reminded of the work of skilled hands. The quality of the builders’ work is matched by the inventivness and perfection seeking of the designers’.

John Winter, RIBA Journal, July 2000

‘The brief, therefore, is not really about luxury but a particular form of hedonism – pleasure based on the complete control of one’s immediate environment and an unfaltering belief in sophisticated technology.’

Nicholas Pople, Experimental Houses, 2000

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