A Victorian warehouse apartment in Clerkenwell has been sensitively remodelled by Emil Eve Architects. The design juxtaposes historic texture with contemporary interventions to create a rich and layered dwelling.
The apartment is on the 2nd floor of a large brick building which fronts St John Street, with its high-end furniture showrooms and cafes. Acquired as a large empty shell, the space consisted of an industrial palette of exposed brickwork walls and columns and board-marked concrete ceiling slab.
Their clients - Jen who works in tech, and Mike who works in finance – appointed Emil Eve Architects to reimagine the apartment as a warm, inviting home while retaining the industrial character of the building.
The architects’ response was to create a series of contemporary interventions that are distinct from the existing building fabric. Each intervention contains a new domestic room: library, dressing room, bathroom, ensuite and pantry. These spaces are conceived as independent elements, lined with bespoke timber joinery and ceramic tiling to create a distinctive atmosphere and identity to each.
This approach enabled the maximum perimeter of existing brickwork and concrete to be left exposed. At the west side of the apartment a large open-plan kitchen, dining and living space enjoys afternoon light and overlooks the bustle of St John Street. On the east side, a spacious bedroom and flexible second bedroom - which doubles as an office and home-gym - face the sunrise and a quieter and leafier residential street.
On entering the apartment, one is brought directly into the library space. This rectangular room is lined entirely in solid European oak joinery, incorporating bookshelves and hidden storage within a precisely calibrated array of vertical and horizontal elements. These establish a calm and welcoming atmosphere to the space. Large format terrazzo tiles pick up the warm oak tones and align with the oak joinery panelling.
Within the thickness of the library’s timber lining is contained deep entrances to connecting spaces. Shifts in floor surface occur at these thresholds, delineating a change in atmosphere and function, with oak chevron parquet in the living and sleeping spaces and a lighter terrazzo tile in the bathroom. Sliding oak pocket doors enable these doorways to be opened fully, creating lateral views from one end of the apartment to the other, through the timber library interior. When closed, the area becomes a contained room, a book-lined sanctuary at the heart of the home.
The architects also designed the kitchen to be a contemporary element that is distinct from the existing brick shell. The lime-washed birch plywood units are integrated into the new architecture, continuing the language of carefully calibrated and crafted joinery elements. A large grey Valchromat island with an integrated teriyaki hotplate creates a space for social cooking and entertaining, a passion of Jen and Mike’s.
All of the joinery, as well as several elements of freestanding furniture, were designed by Emil Eve Architects and built in collaboration with Harbour Joinery Workshop. Harbour are a small Ramsgate based firm run by Hazel Thompson, a former architect, who shares Emil Eve Architects’ commitment to creating furniture pieces that blend contemporary and traditional techniques with high-quality materials.
The palette of lime-washed birch plywood, set against the richer oak parquet flooring, continues in the dressing room and bedrooms in the form of storage elements and a slatted bedhead and window seat. In the master bedroom the architects have used a natural clay plaster to soften the exposed brickwork walls. The subtle texture and colour variation of the clay plaster beautifully highlights the changing quality of light throughout the day.
1. Joinery: Harbour Joinery Workshop
2. Terrazzo tiles: Solus Ceramics
3. Oak parquet: Havwoods
4. Sanitaryware: Vitra, Lusso Stone, Vola, Duravit
5. Concrete basins: Kast
6. Hob + Integrated extractor: Bora
7. Furniture + accessories: SCP
8. Tiles: Mutina Pico, Johnson Prismatics
9. Lights: Flos, Astro