Art and elegant homes compliment one another like champagne and caviar. There is little that graces the walls of a beautiful room so well as the work of a master. But now art is the inspiration behind an entire residential building, One Blackfriars in central London. The design of the new landmark 170m tower has, in part, been drawn from a sculptural, asymmetrical vase created by Finnish artist Timo Sarpaneva. “I knew I wanted One Blackfriars to be a very beautiful thing,“ says Ian Simpson, founding partner of architectural firm, SimpsonHaugh & Partners, based in London.
“The three dimensionally curved glass prow of the building captures the elegance and proportions of the original vase,” he says. The asymmetrical tower, which will be home to 274 apartments, leans gently outwards on one side to the bow, and then pushes up to the sky. The tower will reach 50 storeys in height when it is completed in 2018. Rather than being an inanimate object, Simpson sees the building as “something entirely complementary to its context”. One Blackfriars is smooth, dynamic and responds “to the movement of the river and (flow of people along) Blackfriars Road, at the gateway to Southwark, and with St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance,” he says.
One of the most unique aspects of the building is its glass façade, which is made up of two distinct inner and outer layers. This transparent double envelope allows each apartment to have its own winter or ‘sky” garden. From the inner sliding glass doors, you can step into the outer layer, which acts as a private enclosed glass balcony with louvered windows and breathtaking views of St Paul’s, and the River Thames.
“It’s an incredible space to have in a tall building,” says Michael Bryn-Jones, Managing Director, St George, Blackfriars. Over 9,100 panes of glass are being used to create the curved building – 13 times the number in the Louvre Pyramid. “No two panels are the same,” says Bryn-Jones. “It’s the world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle.”
The lifts will have a speed of 4m per second and it will take only 40 seconds to get to the top. On a clear day you will be able to see 28 miles from the top – as far as Brentwood, in Essex. On the 32nd floor will be a viewing lounge for the local community and businesses. The design and décor of the apartments draw on the culture of the area, particularly neighbouring South Bank and its art galleries. The interiors of the homes, by Tara Bernerd & Partners, take their inspiration from art history, especially the British painters Thomas Gainsborough, J.M.W Turner and sculptor Barbara Hepworth.
The metallic and earth-toned scheme in The Barbara Hepworth Collection of apartments is inspired by the modernist sculptor’s organic stonework sculptures. The three and four bedroom homes feature polished Atlantic Lava stone, Italian marble and polished plaster. Leather and even linen are also used. The two and three bedroom apartments in the Turner Collection have earthy, textured materials including smoked European oak flooring, Savannah Grey stone walls in the master en suite and Pearl Lustre and Sandstorm Imperial Velvet carpets in the bedrooms.
The luxurious palettes are continued in the one bedroom and studio apartments in the Gainsborough collection. The homes epitomise classical elegance in natural colours. Stand out features include moca crème limestone in the bathrooms and shitake quartz worktops in the kitchens. “One Blackfriars is very high quality, with a design edge,” says Simpson. “There will be only one building in London, like this.” The contemporary styled homes which include cutting-edge technology, offer a very comfortable lifestyle. A leisure complex spread over three floors – the size of six swimming pools – will be in the basement. The first-class amenities include a cinema, wine cellar, 20-metre swimming pool, thermal suite, (including a snow room) and golf simulator. Harrods Estates concierge service will be on call 24/7.
“It’s all about the quality of life,” says Bryn-Jones. Opposite the tower, in a four-storey building will be a 4,000 sq ft state-of-the-art gym and yoga garden “all designed so they have glimpses back up to St Paul’s”, says Bryn-Jones. Conveniently, the centre will include shops, cafes and adjacent to it will be a boutique five-star, 161-room hotel.
The developments will be tastefully grouped around 641 sqm of landscaped public square with seating areas and water features. “We call One Blackfriars, The Art of Living,” says Bryn-Jones. One Blackfriars, or The Vase as it is also known, joins a rarefied group of distinctive skyscrapers such as The Gherkin and The Cheesegrater, which have all significantly added to their immediate areas. The iconic building is expected to have an impact on local property prices.
Just down Blackfriars Road is Elephant and Castle which is undergoing considerable regeneration and One Blackfriars is seen as “ a bridgehead or a gateway into Southwark, which will see increased values ripple out”, says Bryn-Jones. In addition Blackfriars district, one of the oldest parts of London (the name derives from a medieval monastic order Black frères) is also changing with more new homes, shops and restaurants in the pipeline. A short stroll along the river brings South Bank’s range of high-class restaurants, shops and of course artistic venues such as The Globe, The Tate Modern and The Royal Festival Hall. Head east and it is only a 20-minute walk to both the Bank of England and all the variety that Covent Garden has to offer.
Meanwhile, the recently refurbished Blackfriars Station now has more frequent services running through central London while Heathrow airport is only 41 minutes away. When the new Elizabeth line (Crossrail) opens in May 2018, it will be possible to reach Canary Wharf, from neighbouring Farringdon Station, in a mere 8 minutes. Whichever way you view it, Blackfriars is on the up. Rather like its splendid tower. One Blackfriars is situated adjacent to Blackfriars Bridge, just five minutes’ walk from London Waterloo.
Prices at the iconic development start at £1.15m and range to £23m. For more information please contact the One Blackfriars sales team on +44 (0)20 7871 7188 or visit the website www.oneblackfriars.co.uk.