By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Xanadu comes to Clerkenwell

This apartment has a touch of Xanadu about it, reflecting the taste and interest of its much-travelled owner. It is in the Ziggurat, a former printworks in Clerkenwell, East London, originally converted to shell and core by ORMS. When the client bought the apartment it was already partly fitted out as open-plan with an over-large entrance hall, bathroom and kitchen. It has been reworked by architect Timson Garah Nielsen to provide a separate bedroom and storage space, and to incorporate radical stylistic changes.

A theme of curves, suggested by the client, generates the new spatial divisions and has been used to create invisible - and plentiful - storage space.

In the newly configured hall, a sinuous bronze wall conceals a hanging cupboard, and the door to the bathroom has been brought forward to make space for a cupboard inside the bathroom doorway. This bronze wall appears to break through into the living room, overlapping with the existing wall and terminating in a fat-sectioned angle. The blue curve on the opposite side of the hall similarly appears to slice through into the bedroom and serves to conceal a walk-in wardrobe. A slight rise along the tops of the curves adds to the sense of movement between one space and another. A yellow curved wall in the living room is pierced by a display case (built to contain the client's collection of Chinese warrior figures) which gradually cantilevers outwards until it reaches the far end of the wall, beside a second entrance to the bedroom.

The curved walls are raised from the floor by a shadow gap and stop short of the ceiling. The use of strong theatrical colours emphasises the curves - painted white they would have tended to merge with the existing walls. They are made of a double layer of 9mm plasterboard, mounted on metaland-timber stud frames and elaborately finished with a skim of plaster, fibreglass lining and paint finishes applied by specialist decorator Timothy Powel. Glass panels mounted above the yellow living-room wall create acoustic separation between the living space and bedroom; on the bedroom side this wall becomes the back of a large semi-circular cupboard. Existing structural beams are fully expressed and all doors are glazed to give visual contact between rooms.

'The client had a budget and a vision and let us do things most clients would not have, ' says Frank Nielsen. The result is an interior that reflects a flamboyant taste and at the same time illustrates an imaginative plan adaptation which makes the best use of the space available.

CREDITS ARCHITECT Timson Garah Nielsen: Nick Timson, Frank Nielsen CONTRACTOR Richard James Interiors COST £32,855 SUPPLIERS AND SUBCONTRACTORS specialist decoration Timothy Powel, 6mm Gyproc multiboards British Gypsum, glass-fibre wall covering 'Design 45' the Marketmost Company, display lighting Cresent Lighting, ironmongery Handles & Fittings, solid maple strip flooring Durabella

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters