Wander around the middle and more famous parts of Maida Vale and you’ll find dinky mews houses galore. But wander into the larger streets of adjacent West Kilburn and Westbourne Park and you’ll find interesting larger spaces of former commercial use that have begun to add some East London urban groove to the more chintzy image of the West.


As luck would have it, we just so happen to be marketing such a space (funny how things work out). Occupying pretty much all the first floor of a corner site, this 1015sq ft apartment has two double bedrooms, two bathrooms and a further 170 sq ft private terrace.


The windows can only be described as massive and, even on a grey day, the living room is as bright a space as one could want. When the sun comes in, however, it’s like someone turned up the brightness to full and those great panes of glass stretch shapes of filtered light across the oak clad floors.


The specification throughout is really great and the quality is palpable, from a beautiful high gloss white kitchen to rather fancy and sharp bathrooms to plenty of built in wardrobe space. You can see that someone has paid serious attention to detail and that it’s really paid off.


If you like your hustle and bustle you’ll love it here, sitting in the heart of West Kilburn with everything you need to keep you fed and watered right outside the door and all manner of great neighbourhoods to wander around.

The apartment is for sale at £765,000


As London prices thrust ever upwards, we thought we’d look at an alternative way to find a place to call home without having to compromise on size or location. Buyers generally feel they have two choices when the demand for property sends prices out of their budget: look at a cheaper neighbourhood, or downgrade the amount of space they’ll accept for their money. But there is another option that doesn’t get so much publicity; buy a former council property.

As home to London’s first council estate and a good few buildings that set the standard for contemporary architecture, East London has a collection of former council blocks that sell for significantly less than their trendier lofty counterparts without compromising on location or size, and often with more than a nugget of visionary modernism.

At the top of the tree there’s the Barbican, one of London’s most well-known addresses and arts hangouts. As Brutalist as they come, it’s home to some pretty radical living spaces, from the double storey apartments of Ben Johnson House to some true diamonds in the sky at Shakespeare, Cromwell and Lauderdale – its three iconic towers. The Barbican, however, is not for those on a budget and has become seriously hot property. But not everywhere is so famous or costly.

Sivill House on Columbia Road – and you can’t say that’s not a great address – is a 1950s Constructivist tower of 56 apartments with increasingly fine views as you work your way up the 17 floors inside its Tetris-style concrete shell. It was designed by a group of architects including Berthold Lubetkin, an early pioneer of modernism in Britain and the man behind, among other things, the penguin pool at London Zoo and also the Finsbury Health Centre, that went on to become the model for a newly created and accessible NHS.


Sivill House, Shoreditch

16-storey Keeling House in Bethnal Green, the first post-war council flats to become Grade II Listed, is a cluster of 4 blocks arranged around a central service tower. A radical transformation occurred when, after falling into disrepair, the building was sold to private developers. In 2001 they added architectural ponds, a penthouse floor and a glass atrium, garnering a RIBA award in the process and turning the Denys Lasdun (of South Bank Centre fame) -designed building into something of a Mecca for budget-conscious minimalists. It’s fast catching up on regular prices.


Keeling House, Bethnal Green

If you prefer it old-skool, but can’t stretch to a school conversion, how about the world’s very first council estate? Arnold Circus, right in the middle of Shoreditch (yet still, somehow, fairly quiet) is a series of red brick Victorian buildings arranged around an elevated central bandstand. Also Grade II Listed, it replaced a former slum (which moved to Dalston) and could be regarded as an early sign of the new middle classes forming an interest in the East End.


Arnold Circus, Shoreditch. Photo courtesy of lovelondoncouncilhousing.com

We’ll be exploring ex-council modernism in other parts of London over the coming months.


You can always trust Bankside Lofts to come up trumps, and in a different way every time. Originally developed by Manhattan Loft Corporation in the late 90s, its most iconic feature is the tall mustard coloured cylindrical tower designed by the architect Piers Gough; a building that has since become one of the major landmarks of the SE1 postcode.


Inside the apartments though, many other architects got to have a go at creating unique living spaces as most of the units were sold in shell’n’core format, giving the building a long lease of life for design conscious Londoners looking not just for an urban space to rent or buy, but a unique one.


Well, that’s certainly on offer here. Up on the seventh floor and with a large south-facing roof terrace looking out across Southwark’s vastly altering landscape, is 1200 sq ft of classic Southbank living space. A simple pallet of white walls, oak floors and those famously large paned industrial style windows with battleships grey frames, the apartment holds anyone’s taste in furnishings with curious ease; go modern, go classic – it all works.


The apartment is available to rent at £900 per week and includes an underground parking space.

Bankside Lofts is also remarkable for the resolve and verve of its concierge staff; try delivering a pizza leaflet here and you’ll be sent on your merry way. This, along with an active residents association, has created that rare thing in large apartment buildings of busy and successful people; a genuine community of interested occupiers who have collectively helped Bankside Lofts lose none of its glamour or desirability. It’s as sought after as it ever was, in fact even more so given SE1’s phenomenal mix of iconic Londoner’s haunts, world class architecture and all round general interestingness, without ever having gone hipster.

With Bankside Lofts and SE1, both classy with an edge, you can feel longevity in the air.