Highpoint II Duplex Apartment
This influential Grade I listed building was designed by Berthold Lubetkin with structural engineer Ove Arup in 1938. New owners of a duplex apartment approached Coppin Dockray to provide a careful restoration and to create new interiors.
The brief from the new owners - a couple retiring to London from the country - was for the restoration to be sensitive to the original 1938 design whilst bringing the apartment up to C21st living standards. All non-original elements were stripped out and existing services and finishes were removed and replaced.
The building’s innovative ‘egg-crate’ structural system allowed for large windows and open plan rooms. A structural zone runs discreetly down the center of each apartment – containing columns, beams, service risers, door thresholds and storage. This clever architectural trick means that the inhabitant is quite unaware that the structural load runs through the centre of the apartment.
Coppin Dockray chose to subtly expose this hidden concrete structure, which cuts through the space like a seam of coal through rock. By lining the seam’s inner surfaces with bespoke joinery, Coppin Dockray has created a unifying element through both floors of the duplex apartment.
The architects collaborated with street artist James Straffon to create a hand painted wall mural, which connects the two levels of the apartment via the stair. The Client’s personal memorabilia and familiar objects form the inspiration for the mural.
The colour palette comes from Le Corbusier’s 1931 strategic colour theory ‘Polychromie Architecturale’. Colours are grouped in relation to the ephemeral line drawn by this structural seam, defining the boundary between the public and private spaces. The cool blue and greys of the public living spaces transcend into more lively oranges and reds of the private upstairs rooms.
Great care has been taken to respect the integrity of the existing building and original building fabric. Where intact, original elements have been salvaged and restored. The steel window frames were meticulously taken apart, stripped back and re-built. Original float glass panes were replaced with new acoustic laminate glass, which improved their acoustic, thermal and safety performance. Ironmongery was refurbished or made to match the original where replaced.
The result is a calm, unique and very personal apartment – designed within the constraints and opportunities offered by this ageing modernist building.