From warehouse to your house

This entry was posted on 23rd June 2013


When it comes to living in a city you’re faced with lots of options when considering where to live. Do you go for a house or a flat. Is the amount living space important or the location? For many, urban living means a flat in or close to a city centre within a stone’s throw of great shopping, nightlife and work. Many of the UK’s major cities have great industrial heritage having grown in an explosion of Victorian industrialisation. So cities such as London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham, have a rich stock of factory and warehouse conversions. The development boom of the last 30 years saw many apartment developments springing up for young professionals with some developers opting to renovate and develop old factories and warehouses. These red-brick behemoths had been empty for much of the Eighties but their size and space were ideal for a new appetite for studio and loft living. Because they had previously housed vast machines and production lines factory conversions were often very solidly built. This sometimes made it difficult to plumb in all the amenities but did mean you wouldn’t be troubled by noisy neighbours or subsidence, and enabled some developments to add extra floors. While a new development may try to make the most of as given plot, dividing it into many similarly sized and shaped units a factory conversion is dictated by the existing structure, which can result in some unique living spaces. Many of the original floors would have been open plan except for supporting columns, making it possible to create expansive studio spaces with kitchen/diners/living rooms. It also allowed for greater flexibility as you could build dividing walls pretty much wherever you wanted. Many factories also had tall ceilings, sometimes going to double height, which allow you to have large spacious living spaces or split level spaces and mezzanine levels. Such as having a bedroom overlooking the living room. Taller ceilings also mean tall windows, allowing for lots of light and ventilation. In these cases automated blinds can be essential since you can’t reach the tops of the windows and the building’s structure may make hard wiring technology into the walls difficult, if not impossible. Great examples of conversions include The Jam Factory in London SE1. An Edwardian era building that is still dominated by a chimney emblazoned with the name of the jam manufacturers, Hartley. The development includes communal gardens, underground parking, balconies and penthouses. But the real blueprint of how developing an old industrial area can transform an entire area for the better has to be Sir Terence Conran’s Butler’s Wharf development. In 1983 he formed a partnership that bought and Southbank and Tower Bridge. The result was not only lots of apartments and homes, but a vibrant hub of shopping, restaurants and culture as well, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Design Museum.

This Post was posted in Home & Garden and was tagged with conversions, development, loft, london, warehouse