Clerkenwell is the spiritual home of loft living, and it is no coincidence that the area looms large in the London Festival of Architecture, which runs until July 4. With 2,000 architectural practices, 60 design showrooms and a host of film companies, new media agencies, graphic and interactive design studios, Clerkenwell has the highest concentration of creative-sector businesses anywhere in the world. Alongside these are funky clubs, bars and notable restaurants.
Given this catchment of creatives, there is no shortage of buyers for whom a cool apartment is not just a badge of success but a “lifestyle” choice. Being a City-fringe location, Clerkenwell also pulls in young bankers and lawyers who want to throw off their business shackles: a designer pad is the best way to do this.
Boutique apartment schemes are a Clerkenwell staple. The latest is a resourceful redevelopment of a nondescript building (light industrial premises where sushi was once made) in Turnmill Street. It is moments from Farringdon station, which is getting a £250 million upgrade for improved Thameslink services and the opening of Crossrail in 2017. This is certain to boost Clerkenwell’s appeal.
Like many Clerkenwell buildings it is mixed-use and has street-level offices behind a double-height glazed frontage and 13 apartments above, each with floor to ceiling windows and either a balcony or terrace. The façade is clad in crisp, white render. Tucked away behind the building is a charming public garden (it’s a Clerkenwell secret).
Developer Marldon has a track record in the area and specialises in bespoke interior joinery, which is in evidence here. There is no private parking provision, only bicycle storage. Prices start at £435,000.
There is no shortage of buyers for whom a cool apartment is not just a badge of success but a ‘lifestyle’ choice
After a two-year construction hiatus, local niche developers are back on the scene, which will help unlock the supply shortage, according to David Salvi of estate agent Hurford Salvi Carr.
“Up to a dozen schemes are in the pipeline but will not come to the market for another year or so,” he says.
One of these upcoming developments is tucked away off Charterhouse Square, where the same agent is selling a one-bedroom apartment at Florin Court, a splendid Art Deco purpose-built block where the Hercule Poirot television series was filmed. It is for sale at £430,000.
Another development will bring genuine loft apartments: 12 homes in a former warehouse off Bishopsgate. The building was once owned by the Port of London Authority and has Wapping-like classic warehouse architecture. Apartments will be at least 1,400sq ft in size and cost from £1.5 million, says Salvi.
One gem currently on the market is the modernist former family home of architects Richard Paxton and Heidi Locher (pictured, top right). Built in 1995, the five-bedroom property was ingeniously created on a narrow site fronting pretty Clerkenwell Green.
It has a central atrium with a sliding glass roof and a three-storey open-plan living space. At the top of the building is a secret roof terrace. The house is completely hidden from the street and incorporates a garage. It is for sale at £2.2 million.
For more information on the London Festival of Architecture, visit lfa2010.org. There are more than 300 events to enjoy.