A taste of New York style in the midst of British history.
Not far from the quintessentially British monument Big Ben, there lies a touch of the Big Apple. That’s right, a tinge of New York has been brought to the Capital by the nifty hands of development team, Alchemi Group.
Dynamic duo Laura Marino and Charlie Baxter head up Alchemi Group and currently manage a portfolio of circa £800 million in real estate assets, which is ever expanding. Known for a strong design sense and boutique residential development specialisation, each Alchemi project is undertaken according to extensive research and consideration of its context, with design detail that goes far beyond the industry norm.
55 Victoria Street is a prime example of Alchemi’s approach to property development. Abundant with bespoke touches and with 27 styles split over 57 apartments, it is far from the cookie-cutter styles seen so often in modern developments. “This is not the developer model — developers like to make things simple for themselves. At Alchemi, we go the opposite direction because we need it to be the best,” said Baxter, his infectious enthusiasm for the project making it easy to understand the success of this model.
The project, set in the heart of Westminster, is surrounded by the most famous of London landmarks. With Victoria station to the west and Big Ben to the east, the location is a thriving hub of city life. Stunning views that are visible even from lower levels, along with tall ceiling heights and window brackets of the original building, inspired the concept that stems from the loft buildings of New York City.
Due to the existence of a long-leased commercial tenant on the basement and first two floors, as well as other third party difficulties, the site had been disregarded by many mainstream developers operating in the area. Alchemi, suited to these kinds of complicated sites due to their boutique approach, saw these difficulties as opportunities and their vision for what the site could be soon became clear.
“I have to have a vision,” explained Marino. “If the project isn’t right for us, I don’t know what to do.” When the brief was formulated for the project to go to architectural competition stage, the concept was very detailed. Stiff and Trevillon were chosen to undertake the realisation of the design thanks to their ability to fit the brief. Their submission of a building with a dark brick façade certainly evokes the industrial chic of New York loft living, along with the inclusion of the large double height windows on the upper levels.
The energy behind all aspects of design at 55 Victoria Street can be seen throughout the project. Bold statements in material choice and colour make this development unique in its composition, which counteracts the impersonal emptiness that could be evoked by the large floor plan of each apartment. “The interiors were drawn from our experience living in a loft in Tribeca. It had a tactile quality and character, which I wanted to bring to this development as much as possible,” said Marino. Bespoke elements such as the sandblasted glass and iridescent green tiles in the kitchen, along with the inclusion of a dark stain on the wood floors add this character. Despite the interiors being housed within a new build there seems to be history behind every surface.
Another major addition to this already exciting project is the inclusion of the landscaped communal garden to the rear of the building. Designed to encourage use by residents, separate recesses and nooks were created to give areas a more private feel, while the inclusion of a communal table is perfect for larger gatherings and social interaction.
In a city where so many large-scale developments are built without a thought for the creation of homes instead of units, Alchemi’s new project is refreshing. Marino’s eye for detail and the pair’s collective drive and vision has created a unique building to join London’s urban fabric.
Property: 57 Residences
Plans: 1605 – 3130 square feet
Period: Q1 – Q2 2016
Price: £2.9m to £11.095m
Perks: Landscaped garden, gym, parking, sky garden, 24 hour concierge with valet parking,