Collector's Apartment, London (2018)
A meticulous remodelling of an art deco apartment for a collector
A residential refurbishment
© Penny Wincer
Set on top of a South London hill that marks the edge of the Thames valley plain, Ruskin Park House is a striking set of apartment buildings built to the 1930’s modernistic designs of Watkins Gray Architects – with long lines, bow windows and large metal windows still very much intact.
The client’s top floor apartment enjoys skyline views across treetops and the city in one direction and its own tranquil park like setting from the other. The original layout also benefited from a ‘zig-zag’ internal entrance hallway which neatly separated the reception rooms away from the bedrooms along with a semi-recessed south facing balcony which interconnects between two rooms.
Our aspiration was to remodel and update the layout to make the most of the abundance of natural daylight, clean air and views, whilst complimenting the existing 1930s architectural character to create a peaceful and calm setting within. A more open and free-flowing arrangement was introduced that included hidden storage spaces and a strategy for the curated display of the client’s varied collection of artefacts and artworks.
Selected internal walls were removed and replaced with sliding walls that allowed individual rooms to become interconnected or separate. In one direction a spatial flexibility and dual aspect and openness was introduced through the apartment that allows natural light to flood reception spaces and provide contrasting views of woodlands and city in two directions. In another direction an enfilade of rooms, incorporating the semi-recessed balcony, creates a long view through the apartment.
Elsewhere, the clever integration of ample storage space behind a run of full height lacquered panels provides a streamlined modern aesthetic, further enhanced by a light grey painted concrete floor throughout the apartment that ties all the spaces together. The client’s substantial acquisition of art and artefacts is also carefully curated and choreographed across the apartment to best effect – with themed art walls alternating between cleverly integrated recesses and system shelving for displaying objects and artefacts.
The now functional floor plan and open, flexible layout contrasts significantly with the traditional closed volume of the original to give the apartment a feel that optimises the aspirations of early twentieth century modern architecture, creating a healthy living environment full of fresh air and sunlight.