Judging the architecture: one developer, two Hammersmith show flats - why the cheapest one wins

Luxurious yes, but perfection? Not quite. An architecture writer sees two show flats by the same developer in Hammersmith and the cheaper one is by far the best.
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Hammersmith, which has lent its name to the Apollo music venue, to the Lyric theatre and to a flyover, has never managed to become associated with pioneering architecture. This is a sprawling suburb with a big market in three-bedroom houses that are typically priced about £2.2 million and sought after by families wanting to benefit from the range of good local schools.

So how will Sovereign Court, where flats are priced from £2,199,950 to £3,849,950 fit in? Only the penthouse remains for sale in phase one of this luxury apartment development due to complete in 2016. The scheme includes Clarence House and adjoining Lancaster House. They sit at the corner of Glenthorne and Beadon Roads in W6 on the site of a former car park. The developer, St George, is putting parking places underground.

Interiors have a smart neutral palette, though buyers can specify finishes, from classic oak flooring to deep-pile carpets. The 2.4-metre ceiling heights are typical inner city, while “second” ceilings conceal air filtration and comfort cooling systems.


The concierge will deliver your mail and pick up letters for delivery from a postbox on each floor, and there are refuse chutes at every floor, too.
The three-bedroom show flat for the remaining phases has an open-plan living space, a Commodore kitchen with marble central island and Siemens appliances, plus dining and soft seating areas. There is the ubiquitous wine cooler but the apartment is cosy, rather than palatial. A plus point is the natural light from two aspects.
Sound systems and 55in LED TVs are included, Sky and broadband thrown in. The penthouse boasts a home automation system. Service charge is £3.50 a square foot and for the boiler you pay £400 up front and then for additional usage.
Penthouse perfection: fabulous views from Sovereign Court roof terrace

Floor plans differ for the one-, two- and three-bedroom flats, though this proved more successful in some flats than in others, with, for example, compromised bathroom space in the show apartment. Though fitted with Villeroy & Boch fixtures and with a heated marble floor and walls, the shower room has its door facing the open-plan living space.
Bedrooms are further along a corridor that turns, raising the spectre of jet-lagged guests wandering into the hub of the home to ablute when lunch is in full swing.
The other bathroom is en suite at the other end of the corridor. You can see why this arrangement was chosen, to create an accessible loo. As a second bathroom it does not work. The door should be on the bedroom corridor, which would have been easy to do.
The high life: just the penthouse, with a spectacular living space, remains for sale in the first phase of Sovereign Court

Each apartment has a balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows, so with all this detail and conformity to interior designer Helen Turkington’s vision, why are the curtains not thrown in? Individuals can call on the in-house team and curtains as they appear, sheer inner and robust outer, can be purchased. But why not have some as standard here?

There has been a successful attempt at Sovereign House to mirror the materials used among existing buildings nearby. The brickwork of Glenthorne Road will, stylistically speaking, be reflected in the next phase, Montpelier House, and the architectural vernacular for this part  of Hammersmith is being sensibly  preserved.
Could pose a problem: the main bedroom has an en suite bathroom but some Sovereign Court bathrooms open on to living spaces, to meet accessibility standards

The second St George site in Hammersmith, with homes from £1.6 million, is called Fulham Reach and 75 residents out of a possible 138 are already in the first phase, Distillery Wharf, completing early next year. Brunswick House has sold all 49 homes, with completion next autumn, and two elliptical new builds complete in late 2016. 

A site of over seven acres, this has been a seven-year plan and it feels that way — considered and resolved. Service charges are higher than at Sovereign Court — £5.48 per square foot rather than £3.50 — but 186 of its 744 flats are aimed at first-time buyers.

This development has riverside beauty and unrivalled views. I want to move in. There’s a boat club, a private club offering snooker, golf, cinema, pool and spa, and a controlled cellar to store up to 1,000 bottles of residents’ wine. Planning rules at Fulham Reach mean four state schools already have access to the boat club, while half of the finished site’s footprint will be open space. Glorious.
How it’s done: unrivalled riverside views at Fulham Reach, which has a boat club, spa, a pool and residents’ wine cellar

While these flats are cheaper than those at Sovereign Court, the interiors are almost on a par, without the double ceiling and air filtration. The scheme for Young Professionals is not embarrassing. These flats — where qualifying first-timers can buy 70 per cent with 30 per cent held in deed through the borough, with eventual 100 per cent ownership possible — consist of one-room homes built to the same standards. I viewed such a “Manhattan” flat to uncover what is the most luxurious element yet — in less than 500sq ft, the largest utility room of the entire venture. That is what I call living. 

Has Glammersmith arrived? I think so. And not just for the rich. Well, not quite.

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