Private view: the £750,000 flats being bought by students
You'd think it woudl be a huge gamble to launch a boldly-designed apartment tower in an edgy bit of East London where asking prices start at half a million for a small studio flat. Nigel Lewis went to see if any buyers have been persuaded
The first time you spot there’s something unusual about the Bezier development, a pair of curved 14-storey apartment towers in London’s Old Street roundabout near the City, is when you clock the string of young-looking Italian, Singaporean, German and Chinese residents roaming around its quiet corridors.
Surely these 20-somethings couldn’t afford the apartments within Bezier – prices start at £575,000 for a one-bedroom and race away up to £1.7 million for the penthouses at the top – so what gives?
A quick chat with the receptionist in the luxe, leather and carpet reception area reveals that the development is, to a certain extent, an upmarket student halls populated by the sons and daughters of the world’s wealthy.
Living among them are other renters too – people using corporate flats during their stint in London for Bloomberg or one of the other big-name City institutions nearby, as well as a small coterie of live-in owners – including a retired surgeon and his wife.
Old Street roundabout
The building they all live in has been built on an unusual site – anyone who remembers Old Street roundabout from a few years back might recall the playground that used to stand where the towers now loom. Bezier is also at the centre of an area changing (or ‘regenerating’ as planners like to say) fast.
Local wags have dubbed the interchange on which it stands ‘Silicon Roundabout’, reflecting the large number of tech firms with offices in the area – in the same way Brighton is ‘silicon beach’ and Edinburgh ‘silicon glen’.
Stand in the £1.45 million penthouse on the top floor and it’s easy to see how the area – between Hoxton (where Jamie Oliver opening his original ‘15’ restaurant) and Shoreditch – is changing so fast.
Looking north out of London and many of the houses and offices have that shabby chic and Bezier’s busty but modern looks stand out by comparison. Look south-east towards the City and the low risers soon give way to the high-risers. The Gherkin and its slim cousins seem almost within reach.
Bezier is therefore one of those landmark, game changing developments and it’s no wonder the towers are filling up fast – so are there any figurative blots on the landscape? Parking is a problem here – only the penthouses and the ‘premier’ apartments get spaces otherwise car ownership is going to be a pain, and parking expensive.
And there is a real blot, rather than a metaphorical one, too. A huge tower to the north of the development, a mixed-use edifice financed by a now-struggling Irish bank, stands half-finished and will be eyesore locally until the bank is back on its feet.
But even so this is offset by Bezier’s advantages. Both tube and train stations are on its doorstep, the City is a 10-minute walk away, several ranks of Boris bikes are to be found nearby and inside you’ve got a free sauna, gym and high-rise garden areas to utilise.
Bezier also stands up well if you compare it locally to similar properties – just. The nearest to compare it to is the nearby Barbican complex, where prices are between 10% and 15% more expensive for comparable one and two-bedroom apartments.
So what about the name? Bezier refers to the Bezier Curve, a type of arc used in design – and in the design of the building’s front facade – which resembles two portly gentleman thrusting their ample girths out over the Old Street roundabout.
This might have amused the over-plump playwright Ben Jonson, who in 1598 killed a man during a duel in fields near to Bezier and after whom a tower is named within the Barbican.
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Bezier is, to a certain extent, an upmarket student halls populated by the sons and daughters of the world’s wealthy