This Residential Development Brings Industrial Design Home

Love industrial chic, but struggling to translate it into a comfortable domestic ‘look’? Look no further. The characterful building in which 385 Clerkenwell is located was constructed in the 30s as a shoe factory. Soho-based firm APA then took on the challenge of converting this industrial space into a habitable 123sqm apartment, creating a dramatic home that would channel the clients’ backgrounds in cinema and operatic set design.

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The vault door is an original feature of the building’s shoe factory days, and inspired the use of raw steel throughout the apartment. A bold, black steel cube added during the conversion fills the centre of the apartment, sitting starkly on the polished concrete floor like a theatrical fly tower.

Steel meshes and doors reveal, hidden inside the cube, a bathroom, a film and book archive, and laundry facilities. It’s also used as a locus about which the various open-plan areas of the apartment are wrapped. Behind rolling screen doors lies the bedroom, and around the cube are located a kitchen, dining area, and lounge, in subtle chromatic variations on industrial slate-grey.

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Warm lighting by Deltalight and ViaBizuno further moderates the sharp warehouse aesthetic, and materials and furniture are inspired by the clients’ history of travelling, with warmer touches like solid oak shelves, black ash shoji, and mountain climate blankets, creating a textural medley in the unique space.

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APA have designed workplaces for Barclaycard and Barclays, and retail spaces for Stella McCartney, and Whistles, among others. The difference with residential properties like this is that, whilst the project may only have taken a few months, “it’s never really complete; it will evolve as it is lived in by the owners.” In a home that so thoroughly reflects the clients’ creativity and individuality, it’ll be great to see how they expand upon it next.

THE PLUS: You’ve offset the industrial look with accents of natural elements – what purpose do plants serve in residential buildings? Do you have any plants in your own home?
APA:
Plants can add great character, especially with a monochrome palette. We love to use plants in homes, workplaces and for shops when it is relevant: as much nature as is feasible.

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TP: It’s an economic use of limited space – what do you think bout your project’s relation to larger scale projects?
APA:
Planning is important to consider from micro to macro of course. We all know the very best architects develop urban housing on the tightest parameters, so planning at a micro scale is vital.

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TP: Were there any particular challenges you face in this project?
APA:
We worked with a substantially monochrome palette of materials but we were very happy with that limitation. The concrete was in very light tones, the heavier materials in industrial steel blues, plus a rich dark olive green. We hope that the unexpected textures add to a feeling of craft.

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TP: Your firm works principally in retail residential, and workplace environments; what do you particularly enjoy about residential projects?
APA:
We simply enjoy craft in architecture and design. Craft can be achieved in so many ways, as long as care and the intention to keep improving remains.

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TP: So craft, of all sorts? Is yours a fairly genre-less design process?
APA:
We like to transfer considerations from one design sphere to another, wherever relevant. Whether for a stage, theatre, or film set.

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floor plan

Photography by Ed Reeve.