Renovation Opens Up a London Apartment

Renovation Opens Up a London Apartment

By William Lamb
In Clerkenwell, an architect re-imagines a space to bring out the "dramatic geometry" of its concrete ceiling.

Stephen Kavanaugh of the London firm Inside Out Architecture undertook this renovation of a 2,583-square-foot apartment in Clerkenwell, in central London, on behalf of a couple.

Inside Out Architecture renovated an apartment in the Clerkenwell section of central London, removing interior walls to create an open, loft-like living space. The architects were taken in by the "dramatic geometry" of the existing board-formed concrete ceiling, and their design maintained and emphasized its dynamic criss-crosses and texture.

Kavanaugh said he was taken in by the "dramatic geometry" of the crisscrossing concrete beams in the existing apartment’s ceilings. But he noticed immediately that the walls that divided the flat into rooms did so in a way that cut arbitrarily across the beams, muting their effect.

The renovation was designed to preserve and call attention to the angular pattern of the crisscrossing concrete ceiling beams. Photo by Jim Stephenson.

It struck Kavanaugh that the solution would be to strip away years-old drywall to expose more of the apartment’s concrete shell. "A number of spaces—including a TV room, two bedrooms, separate family and guest bathrooms, a utility room and an adaptable guest bedroom—were then ‘inserted’ into this hollow shell," Kavanaugh says. "These inserts came in the form of numerous bespoke joinery pieces, designed with a light touch and simple, smooth finishes to contrast with, and hence emphasize, the strength of the textured concrete structure."

The architects suspended a NoBoDy 200 lighting rig by Delta Light from the concrete ceiling. Photo by Jim Stephenson.

Where new walls and custom joinery pieces were inserted, they were designed to stop short of the concrete beams—a touch that Kavanaugh says treats the interior walls "as something secondary to the structure," contributing to the open, loft-like feel of the space. "Despite their simple expression," Kavanaugh says, "the joinery pieces house a wealth of concealed functions, including fold-out beds, integrated radiators, storage units, kitchen appliances, glazed screens, curtain recesses, sliding partitions, and the entire family bathroom. All of the joinery in the project is bespoke, made to suit."

Another view of the open living-dining space. Photo by Jim Stephenson.

The project was completed in February 2013 at a cost of $584,000 to $675,000.

The kitchen island is outfitted with a stainless-steel countertop. Photo by Jim Stephenson.

The architects carved out a small sitting area outside a bedroom. The partitions are either painted plasterboard, lacquered medium-density fiberboard (MDF), or veneered MDF. Photo by Jim Stephenson.

A view of the living room through a floor-to-ceiling window in the bedroom. Photo by Jim Stephenson.

The flooring in the hallway, and elsewhere in the apartment, is manor oak by Kährs. Photo by Jim Stephenson.


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