Behind a discreet frontage is this cleverly conceived contemporary house on Heneage Street, within the Brick Lane Conservation area. Accommodation is set over three levels which are connected by an excellent helical staircase, with wonderful views to the exceptional Fournier Street and over the eighteenth-century rooftops of Whitechapel.
The building was designed by a young architect for himself and so has many lovely and carefully thought through details, including internal windows, shadow gaps, beautiful slim floorboards and huge single-pane and metal-framed windows with deep sills.
A smart entrance from the street leads to a lobby and cloakroom, from which a set of wooden stairs leads to the living spaces. At this level are also the foundations of the milliner’s house that once stood on the plot, the basement of which is still in working order – providing excellent storage.
The open living spaces are configured with the kitchen in the middle, and a bright dining room at one end and the living room at the other. The living space looks onto Brick Lane, filled with light from large windows that mimic the listed 18th century and Huguenot buildings in the area. A working fireplace also connects to the original flue from the site’s previous incarnation.
The kitchen leads to the dining room, which is excellent for entertaining. A wall of windows concealed behind metal louvers allow great views to passers by on Heneage Street while maintaining complete privacy. An impressively engineered metal staircase leads to two bedrooms and bathrooms, one of each per storey.
Brick Lane and Fournier Street were designated as conservation areas in 1969, to recognise the unique architectural history and character of the area. It comprises the most important early Georgian quarter in England, including Christ Church Spitalfields, one of three impressive churches designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the area. Heneage Street was developed a little later, between 1799 and 1819, and this contemporary house is within the conservation area boundary.
While having traditionally been used for small industry such as weaving and later brewing, the area has now become home to many artists and galleries. Tracey Emin and Gilbert and George hold large studios nearby. The architect David Adjaye has carried out imaginative conversions for both Chris Ofili and Jake Chapman on Fashion Street. There is a rich mix of fashion and textile business, start-ups and wonderful places to eat, as well as being the heart of London’s Bangladeshi Community.
The wonderful Spitalfields and Whitechapel markets are close by and the area has abundant places to eat. Ambala has excellent Indian sweets and snacks, Tayyabs Punjabi food, Som saa Thai cuisine, while much-loved St John Bread and Wine is on nearby Commercial Street and Ottolenghi in Spitalfields. There are also plenty of great traditional pubs, such as The Pride of Spitalfields, The Ten Bells, which as seen many artists over its long years, and The Carpenters Arms. The Whitechapel Gallery, Curzon, Rich Mix and Genesis cinemas contribute to the area’s village feel along with the galleries of Bethnal Green. Barbican and Shoreditch are also within easy walking distance.
The area has excellent transport links. Aldgate (Metropolitan and Circle Lines) and Aldgate East (District and Hammersmith and City lines) are within ten minutes’ walk. Equidistant from the house are Whitechapel (District and Hammersmith and City lines, London Overground and soon Crossrail) and Liverpool Street (Central Line and National rail) stations.
This building was awarded the Ibstock Downland Prize for Urban Renewal.
Lease length: Approx 106 years (expires 2125)
Ground rent: Approx £50 per annum