Walk along Ironmonger Row, just north of Barbican, to the canal basin at City Road and you will discover the ancient parish of St Luke's. It features an 18th-century Hawksmoor church, now a recording studio for the London Symphony Orchestra, and magnificent Art Deco public baths.
Until about 1990, this was a lively commercial district, but with startling suddenness it fell almost silent, leaving empty industrial buildings. The trades and crafts that had flourished over the previous two centuries died or departed as technology took over.
The area still feels like a secret, though perhaps not for much longer. A revival is under way, fuelled by the rise of bordering Shoreditch, with mainly small-scale developments of loft-style offices and flats. Now comes 250 City Road, which offers 933 homes.
The scheme, pictured, replaces an unimpressive low-rise business estate and data centre, built barely 25 years ago when Islington borough planners were arguably at their least imaginative. The development brings in the big guns.
Architect Foster + Partners has created the corporate-style scheme with two towers, a rooftop gym and sky terrace, two acres of landscaped space, offices and studios for start-up companies, shops, spa, cafés and restaurants plus a four-star hotel. Walk-to-work Square Mile employees are among the early buyers.
Apartments start at £865,000. Call Berkeley Homes on 020 3040 6250.