Situated in the heart of London’s Soho, HL Studio and developer English Rose Estates have transformed Richmond Buildings from a mundane office space to a high-end residential development of nine apartments. The project, which comprised a three-bedroom penthouse, two three-bedroom apartments and six one-bedroom apartments, has added character to the building with a design that reflects the vibrancy of its surroundings, while remaining sensitive to its location within the Westminster Soho conservation area.
Central to the brief was the desire to create maximum impact for the owner and residents. Patrick Hegarty, Director, HL Studio explains: ‘We understand the importance of paying close attention to the customer’s needs and aspirations – and applied our knowledge of leisure, retail and commercial design, and the experience gained working with clients, such as Virgin on Upper Class Clubhouse Lounges and cruise ships, and with Maison Margiela, to create an elegant, comfortable and functional scheme.’
With a Central London location, space was at a premium. The excavation of the lower-ground floor enabled the creation of additional bedrooms and two exterior courtyards. A fourth floor was added with a roof top garden; this required close co-operation with the London Borough of Westminster. Maximising existing space was crucial, as was ensuring sufficient ‘breathing space’ between transitional zones. This was achieved by, for example, using clear glazed screens for stair balustrades and antique mirrored panels in hallways.
While conforming to fire and building regulations, the apartments have been kept as open as possible to maximise light. Ensuite bathrooms are configured to incorporate obscured ribbed glass into the internal walls, thereby increasing daylight. Large windows with Juliet balconies have been installed to the front elevation, while full-height sliding doors to the rear allow daylight to flood in.
The lighting scheme features a family of light sources, including pendants, wall lights and low-level lighting – this allows different moods to be created, while maintaining continuity. The luminaires highlight the materials, textures and architectural elements creating focal points, for example, feature pendants above the stairs, kitchen islands and dining areas, and five-amp circuits throughout, give residents the freedom to create their own ambience.
Diesel with Foscarini Gask wall and pendant lights (designed in 2016, by the Diesel Creative Team in collaboration with Foscarini) are positioned on the interior brick walls and above the kitchen islands. These complement the warehouse feel and create a feature both when off and on, when they emit a warm glowing light from a blown glass diffuser. Raised brass details on the metal fixture evoke a retro quality with contemporary style.
The industrial feel continues in the dining areas, where Diesel with Foscarini Glas pendant lights, reminiscent of warehouse fittings, are suspended by a bold chain. The pendant’s lamp is made from chrome blown glass – when off the chrome finish reflects the surroundings, and when on the lamp emits a warm beam.
Flos Smithfield pendants and Foscarini Birdie wall lights are used in the living / dining areas of the one-bedroom apartments. The Smithfield pendant has an industrial, functional character, which is softened by the simplicity of its form and cooler tone to give a homely look. The minimal depth of the pendants allows them to be suspended comfortably within limited floor-to-ceiling height.
Radon wall lights within the bedrooms (by Hans Sandgren Jakobsen for Lightyears), were selected for their durability and uncomplicated design. The adjustable lamp enables users to pull the half sphere up away from the wall allowing the light to spread out to precisely where it is required.
Contemporary LED chandeliers from Moooi are located above the stairs. The Heracleum pendant with its ‘branches’ and transparent illuminated ‘leaves’, and the intricate woven steel spheres of the decorative Raimond pendant, add glamour and sparkle to the space. Foscarini Tivu and Bahia wall lights were selected for bedroom lobby areas.
These shallow fittings ensure the spaces feel as wide as possible, while bringing a sculptural element to an area often ignored. Throughout the interior and exterior communal areas, Original BTC galvanised finished luminaires complement the industrial simplicity of the scheme.
Commenting on the success of the project, English Rose Estates said:
‘Having HL Studio on the project encouraged us to take a fresh look at our approach to design. The contemporary living environment at Richmond Buildings is testament to the value HL Studio added through their understanding of customer profiling, their attention to detail, and their awareness of compliance, and budget and time restraints.’
Design: HL Studio
Photography: Unleashed Agency / HL Studio