The AJ speaks to Niccolo Barattieri di San Pietro of luxury developer Northacre about sponsoring the Serpentine’s summer houses, what he wants from an architect, and living on a boat for two years
What kind of projects are you currently working on?
We’re working on two schemes at the moment, which neatly encapsulate both established, and future directions for the company. Northacre was founded by architect Klas Nilsson 25 years ago, and we are proud of its reputation as a leader in revival development. We are currently developing No 1 Palace Street with Squire and Partners – the only residence to offer views of Buckingham Palace Gardens. The Grade II-listed property was originally built prior to the third wing of Buckingham Palace as one of London’s first landmark hotels and hosted overflow guests of Queen Victoria. The site represents Northacre’s specialism in reviving the best of London’s architectural gems. There will be five architectural styles in total, ranging from Beaux Arts to contemporary, of which the facades will be retained in one of our most challenging constructions yet.
Earlier this year we won planning permission for the redevelopment of The Broadway, a 0.7ha site in Westminster and former HQ of New Scotland Yard. Designed by Squire and Partners, it represents a real change for Northacre. It is our first new build and first mixed-use development. It will feature six architecturally stunning peninsulas and create a new contemporary and dynamic quarter for Westminster. While this is a new direction in design terms, it resounds well with Northacre’s history and ethos: to revive and preserve important or culturally rich landmarks of London and its architectural landscape.
The Broadway Aerial Night Time View
What is next for you?
We are excited to sponsor the first ever Serpentine Summer House exhibition, an extension of the Serpentine Gallery’s internationally acclaimed Summer Pavilion initiative. The Summer Houses are a significant addition to the Serpentine’s famed architecture programme and it is the first time five architects will be involved, with four of the architects invited to submit designs that consider Queen Caroline’s Temple.
We are also looking forward to starting work on site at The Broadway in the autumn.
How do you think you are perceived in the market place?
Northacre is established and trusted – demonstrated by the high percentage of returning clients who buy homes from us again and again. We were one of the first companies to work in the luxury space market, and the first developer to create a ‘leisure basement’ in a residential home … which may not go down quite so well now! We do not compromise; always choosing remarkable sites or properties of note that create noteworthy homes with a sense of story.
We are known for getting on with developing projects and delivering what we promise, without fail, over 25 years. Which is unfortunately not always the case in the world of prime property development.
How do you select architects?
Our in-house architecture team creates the initial design direction. We then have in-depth interviews with architects whose style best fits the project. There is some amazing expertise out there, but it is about finding a working relationship with an architect that appreciates and is sensitive to the project in question.
What do you want from an architect?
We already have an in-house team led by our design director Orlando Rodriguez. We work collaboratively with Squire and Partners with whom we have had a long and successful working relationship. The key thing that we want from our in-house architecture and design team is to really consider the history and personality of the site, to work collaboratively and efficiently for the success of the build and create a landmark project that will make us proud for years to come.
What don’t you want?
Egos – architects that have a vision but no flexibility.
Are there any future opportunities for architects with you?
We have been at the forefront of high-end residential development for over 25 years. There will be plenty of opportunities for talented architects to work with us.
Why did you decide to sponsor the Serpentine Gallery’s Summer Pavilion show? Will this be an annual commitment?
The Serpentine is one of the most innovative galleries in the world and has carved an international reputation for championing both up-and-coming and established architects in London. This passion for London’s architectural landscape lies very close to our hearts so it was a no-brainer collaboration for us. Similarly, last year we supported ‘What is Luxury?’ at the V&A, an exhibition that supported exquisite design, craftsmanship and innovation and championed its status as the ultimate luxury – something that, in our line of work, we firmly believe in.
nle serpentine photo c iwan baan 3
It is important to support causes that mean something to us as a company. In terms of next year… watch this space.
Who is your favourite architect?
Zaha Hadid was one of the great visionaries of our time. I have a huge amount of regret that she is no longer with us and to never have done a project with her.
What is your favourite building and why?
Being from Rome I have a special attachment to the Pantheon and its 2,000-year history. On a more contemporary note I love the Heydar Alliyev building in Baku. No straight lines or right angles, just sensuous curves, obviously designed by Zaha Hadid.
You lived on a boat for two years in Hawaii. Did you learn any lessons about what you wanted from life (and even development) from this experience?
There’s nothing like living on a boat to instill the value of dry land. You yearn for a home that doesn’t rock and sway but then the grass is always greener as they say. Now that I live on dry land, I yearn for yacht life, sitting on deck in the sun.
Now that I live on dry land, I yearn for yacht life, sitting on deck in the sun
Living on a boat, I learnt the importance of space and scale within a home – but also of clever design. There’s nothing as clever as yacht design because all of the storage and furniture has to be seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the hull. There can be no design that is an afterthought, or a bolt on. I try to apply this to what we do at Northacre – integrating great design into the home to enhance living.
You have recently become a director at Leeds United – what do you hope to achieve there given its rather rocky recent history?
Leeds is one of the biggest clubs in England and hence the goal has to be its return to the Premiership. The club has worked very hard during the last few months to bring in talented players. Moreover, I also believe that in Garry Monk we have one of the most exciting young managers around.
Let’s see how we fair this season which also happens to be the most competitive ever.
Niccolo Barattieri di San Pietro is the chief executive office of Northacre