The next in our London’s 5 best series looks at life inside a converted factory. These giants of the industrial age conjure up images of huge windows, tall ceilings and massive halls filled with machinery and held up by chunky concrete pillars.

While not great for the health of Victorian and Edwardian Londoners, the industrial age left a legacy of buildings ripe for redevelopment as contemporary urban living began to take hold in the 1990s. Many of the city’s former factories are now home to some extraordinary loft apartments and penthouses, often designed by the initial buyers in conjunction with their own architects to create exceptional one-of-a-kind spaces. Here are 5 of our favourite London factory conversions.

Spratts Walk, Limehouse E14

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This former dog food factory on the Limehouse Cut canal remains something of a London loft lovers’ secret, half way between the DLR stations at Devons Road and Langdon Park in a tranquil spot away from all the action at Limehouse Basin and the Thames. Originally converted into shell apartments by a bunch of enterprising artists in the 1980s, the buildings have since become home to a varied and sociable mix of creatives and city types looking for a sociable, neighbourly vibe. The spaces inside are huge, raw and thoroughly authentic while the community spirit is refreshingly buoyant.

 

Alaska Buildings, Bermondsey SE1

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One of London’s first incarnations of gated loft complexes, created from a former seal tannery. The iconic white art-deco centerpiece – designed by Wallis, Gilbert & Partners, architects of the famous Hoover Building on the A40 – hides some beautiful communal gardens around which sit more apartments, some converted from older warehouses and some newly built. At the front, two rows of 1970s-built office buildings house some huge live/work units.

 

The Jam Factory, Bermondsey SE1

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A rather more polished affair, the place where Hartley’s Jam was made put this part of Bermondsey firmly on the map after a hugely successful conversion into lofts, live/work units and penthouses. Ian Simpson Architects designed the 200 or so apartments across three Victorian buildings, with around 50% sold as shells. Hard landscaping adds a sharp edge to the street level environment, while the views of London from the double-storey glass extensions and rooftop terraces are truly awesome.

 

The Factory, Shoreditch N1

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One of the earliest developments from Manhattan Loft Corporation and the building that really kicked things off for Shoreditch. The Factory has retained its place at the top of the league through a timeless conversion into shell apartments that harnessed all the good stuff from the building’s industrial heyday and left a gritty blank canvass for the East End’s new wave of incoming creatives to foist their ideas upon.

 

The Light Works, Brixton SW2

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Brixton doesn’t really have much of an industrial heritage, but tucked away behind a fairly typical terrace of Edwardian family houses is The Light Works, a former lightbulb factory. This is the smallest factory conversion on our list, home to just a handful of large live/work houses that really do feel like a secret uncovered the minute you step into the courtyard. There’s a also a sense of fun about this hidden mews, with each house getting a different exterior colour splash.

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Not every apartment costs a mint, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be as fresh. If you’re not looking to blow a fortune – but still want some edge in design – take a look at 124 Deptford High Street. It’s being developed by MacDonald Egan, who’ve built a reputation for sharp, affordable space by teaming up with young architects and working in the less expensive inner-cities of South East London.  exterior

Characterised by huge windows and a squarely cubist sensibility, this rather striking building contains 24 apartments, penthouses and liveWork spaces with some lovely little touches and prices from a very reasonable £220,000. Take a look at our website for the futher details.

 

 

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How do you improve on perfection? The short answer, of course, is you can’t.  And you probably wouldn’t. But you might tweak perfection to your own particular bent, even if that perfection was created by Mr Minimalist himself, the justifiably-acclaimed and award-winning architect, Seth Stein.

 

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And now it’s story time.

 

When the current owner moved to The Piper Building in Fulham 6 years ago, he had a few “magic parameters” to fulfil. Like most of our clients, his fertile imagination ruled his search. Rather than being whisked along by mainstream television advice of location, location, location, his priorities were space, space, space. First, he wanted somewhere to sit outside and somewhere to park. That ruled out many a Shoreditch candidate. Next he threw in the need for cat-swinging proportions; wave goodbye to Victorian terraces. He then bade a fond farewell to new-build with a desire for high ceilings, and with his criterion of a genuine and voluminous loft experience, it was ‘so long and thanks for all the fish’ to West London. Or was it?

 

The Piper Building is something of an anomaly in the West London loft market, in that it is good. In fact, it’s more than good; it’s outstanding. We are often shocked and appalled at what some developers try to pass off as loft living, when their true aspirations are clearly to lower expectations and cram more mediocre apartments into a wonderful old building. Oddly, it is in the East where buyers have been historically more demanding; developers in Shoreditch & Clerkenwell would be run out of town for delivering such tosh. In the West, it’s generally been a case of ‘get what you’re given’.58-kitchen-small

 

Not so, The Piper Building. This is the real deal, and here is one of the most charming traits of all London’s loft addresses; every now and again, the number of apartments within the building reduces. Not because bits of it fall off, but instead, rather than leave, residents buy another loft next to their own and make the two into one. Whether the postman ever wonders what happened to number 75 we really can’t say; we just know that people love living here.58-reception-to-mezzanine-small

 

So, to the apartment in question. 150sq m of classic, urban, timeless loft space complete with double height void, a mezzanine level and a whole lotta concrete, glass, wood and limestone. Laid out as a splendid and cavernous 1 bedroom London pad, it is the size of a regular 4 bedroom house. The owner often smokes a cigar on the balcony, which not only has a view of the Thames, but also looks over The Hurlingham Club, who unwittingly give him a free fireworks display every November 5.

 

“After I first saw this place, I compared every subsequent viewing to here. Frankly, nothing ever compared. I wanted a place to go “wow” at, and this is the one that delivered”.

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Well, not exactly worth dying for, but perhaps died and gone to property heaven. Over the coming months, we are going to feature some of our favourite properties from around the world that inspire us. This comes alongside our intention to shortly start marketing the very occasional outstanding property for sale, outside of London and even overseas, but we intend to be incredibly selective as to the kind of property we represent.

Anyway, for this month, our 1st choice of Property to Die For. Marcio Kogan’s Panama House is a residence designed for art. Located in São Paulo, Brazil, the house makes a powerful but subdued statement in its low, open, elongated elegance — a hallmark of Kogan’s architecture.panama-terrace-2

All levels of the three-storey house — including the bedrooms, office, gardens and patio — are used to display the owner’s substantial collection of predominantly modern Brazilian art and sculpture. The site of Panamá house is located in one of the garden neighborhoods, just some blocks from Paulista, the financial center of the city of São Paulo.

The box form is Kogan’s favourite motif – occurs time and again but in carefully nuanced combinations: precisely planed concrete boxes within boxes and timber slatted boxes that open outwards towards a slimlined lap pool, perhaos with no dorrs to mark inside our outside. panama-outside

 

 

 

The elegant economy to Kogan’s use of columes translates to a very real sense of freedom. The result is airy, light-washed spaces that seem barely tethered to the ground, an apt escapist image perhaps for Sao Paulo’s congested megapolis 

The sliding vertical wood lathes that form the brise soleils for each room’s facade, are also an important part of establishing the prevailing openness. The brise soleils also provide comfort and privacy, and enable the control of the artworks’ exposure to direct sun. Most beautifully, they also create the soft play of light that matches the overall linear shapes — created by creases in window treatments, the floor boards, the rows of pillows on long sofas, the stone work outside — continuing the elongated language of the entire building.

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The interior plan is organized into 3 floors and a sub-solo. Upon entering the lot, a tree-covered patio leads the guest to the door. A social hall distributes part of the program of the house: a library, vertical circulation, the utility rooms and the living room. From within the library you can see, in front of the exterior stone wall, a Maria Martins sculpture, reposing over a reflecting pool. The living room has large spans that open, in their entirety, to the garden, building a spatial continuity between interior and exterior. In the garden, the pool, mirrors the stones of the wall.

All in all, our of our top 10 houses in the world!

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Reflection of Mineral is a 480-square-foot (about 45 square meters) residence located in downtown Tokyo’s Nakano ward. Designed by architect Yasuhiro Yamashita Reflection of Mineral has received wide architecture and design media attention and numerous international awards.

Also beautiful is the way in which the interior appointments the lines of the bathtub, the curves of the waste bins, the wavy length of the utilitarian shelves respond to the lines of the building. This makes the interior seem larger and much less boxy than one would assume from the outside.

Depending on viewpoint, the house looks like a bulky camper van about to take off. Or it seems to be the result of a giant`s frustrated attempt to fashion a house from a square box. Realizing that the site is too small and the wrong shape for his house, the giant just stuffed the house into the site by force. The whimsy of this beautiful residence is a big part of its charm. At the same time, the house is also an elegant expression of modern Japanese minimalism, and an example of brilliant use of a sparse site, a requirement in the tight space of downtown Tokyo.

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