I’m getting the silent treatment. Not because someone doesn’t like me but because I’m being shown round a minimalist loft apartment in Camden by… a mime artist who refuses to speak.
The appointment was made over the phone by his friend who warned me how immersed the owner was in his craft. But I wasn’t quite as speechless as I might have been when the features of the property were pointed out to me in a series of nymph-like movements, wide smiles and arching hand gestures.
White minimalism prevailed throughout, with not a knick-knack or hanging thing in sight. It was my idea of utopia. They say that actions speak louder than words — and today, for sure, they most certainly did.
I’ve amassed a few favourite buildings in my 17 years of trotting around London’s lofts and warehouses. One of them is Bankside Lofts, the mustard coloured cylinder that’s the next-door neighbour to Tate Modern’s western entrance. Since it was developed in the late 1990s, we’ve handled more than 90 per cent of its sales and lettings. So I’m there a lot, and the building has become almost a second home.
Today I’m revisiting a duplex with a terrace that we sold a few years back. The owners are now relocating to west London. I remembered the double-height ceilings but I’d forgotten about that dazzling south-facing terrace. I love Bankside Lofts so much that I recently dedicated an entire blog post to the building, which features the hardest working and most delightful concierge in London.
A day of religious conversions — I am in a church in Clapham. I have to say I find most adaptations of former places of worship to be something of a disappointment. They’re either chopped into tiny pieces with perhaps half an arched window left in a fit of generosity from the developer, or they’re just dark. The large pillars can often interfere with light when the buildings are converted, and cutting up the window space just makes things worse. However, none of that today. This is church heaven — all 2,750sq ft of it. It has wonderful natural light, the rooms are fabulous and it’s right in the centre of Clapham’s Old Town: a snip at £1,750 per week.
Meanwhile, over in Hackney, a snip of different sorts, where a potential vendor of a live-work conversion has been subjecting one of my colleagues to a series of videos and pamphlets extolling the virtues of Judaism. My colleague waited 30 minutes before yelling ‘cut!’ and getting back to the valuation in hand.
Another of my favourite buildings, this time with royal connections. Number 1, Prince of Wales Road in NW5 was opened by The Prince of Wales in 1929 as the North London Polytechnic. Now it’s a phenomenal place to live, stuffed with some of the best lofts in London and in a vibrant neighbourhood. The residents hold open-air film screenings in the courtyard along with barbecues and other events. I’m seeing three apartments here today.
It’s weird and wonderful requests day. One buyer wants an apartment with ceilings high enough to display 10ft sculptures and string up a hammock. But the next call took even me by surprise. A concert pianist would like a place not only big enough for his grand piano — not an unusual request for us — but for mini-recitals.
Even that didn’t sound so outrageous until he explains that by “mini” he means for audiences of up to 70 people. I’m not sure who was more surprised when I said that I did have somewhere to show him. So off we popped to 4,500sq ft of riverfront warehouse in Wapping.
Solly Strickland is the London residential manager of Unique Property Company (0870 900 4050; www.uniquepropertycompany.co.uk)