Opinion piece provided by Finkernagel Ross, a RIBA chartered, London-based team of architects and interior designers with a distinct quality for design interpretation and architectural excellence.
A home is so much more than just square footage and the right number of bedrooms. That’s something which we, as architects, have always known and which brings us the very best of clients. The quality of light, the sculptural materials, the unexpected details – these are the things that really elevate a space. But we know, too, that when the market is a cautious one and there’s so much at stake, these things fall by the wayside. It’s not surprising that appealing to as many buyers as possible, maximising space and keeping to bland design choices is the default approach. For a developer to let go of that mindset would be a brave step indeed.
Then a few years ago Jonathan Seal of Beaubridge got in touch. Just like so many of our high-end clients, he wasn’t in the least bit fixated by square footage, nondescript interiors and box-ticking. He wanted something that would blow him away. Unlike our usual clients, though, Jonathan was a developer – a developer with a vision. He knew there must be a different kind of client out there. He imagined successful, design-conscious people who would love to hand-pick their architect and create the house of their dreams but who never quite found the time and headspace to make it happen.
That ambitious, enlightened vision is what led Jonathan to our door. He had done his research and knew that we set the bar high. He’d noticed that we’d gained planning permission on sensitive sites just down the road from his own. And he had admired the attention to detail and bold vision that accompanied everything we did. Most importantly, he knew that he couldn’t do this alone.
Together we paced back and forth across his site, considering every possibility and every angle. We pored over details that mattered to him as much as they mattered to us. We implicitly agreed to avoid standard design responses, and we refused to cut corners where others might. We kept at the forefront of our minds the clients who would one day call these homes their own – thoughtful, discerning clients who don’t come along every day. It was these clients (no matter that for now they were just a figment of our imagination) who drove every decision and every detail.
There’s an unusual alchemy when you bring together the thought and care of bespoke residential design with the excitement and potential of development. And now that these unusual and beautiful homes have emerged into the light, we’re ready to tell their story. It’s the story of our happy collaboration with Jonathan, of respecting the past while making the most of the present, of bringing a beautiful street back to life, and of a little patch of London unlike any other. There’s so much to say and so much to celebrate – and, if we weren’t already happily settled elsewhere, this is exactly the kind of place we’d want to call home.