Architecture Design Developers Luxury

Finchatton + The Lansbury Knightsbridge London

Postcode Perfect

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There are the golden postcodes of Belgravia, Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge and Mayfair. Then there is the platinum Knightsbridge address of Basil Street, sandwiched between Harrods and Harvey Nics. Bronze torches light the winter’s night. Silver railings cordon off a red carpet. Welcome to The Lansbury. Beware, the bling ends at the front door (except perhaps for beetroot macaroons at the launch party).

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Developer Finchatton’s latest offering is a slender sliver of a corner apartment block rising six (visible) storeys. Walls hewn from sandstone form a deeply incised but relatively unadorned skin. What a welcome relief (no pun) from the brick Accordia-lite which has come to dominate domestic architecture in the capital. Shallow rectangular projecting bays provide a nod to nearby mansion blocks. The Lansbury’s architecture has a restrained permanence, the antithesis of pop up culture. It doesn’t compete for attention with its chunkier period neighbours. Period. Instead it commands material consideration (stop the puns!) through quality and subtlety.

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“Our style is very considered,” says Andrew Dunn, one half of Finchatton’s founders. “It’s not blingy and bright and flashy. The Lansbury embodies our core values: utmost quality and attention to detail, contemporary design with reference to heritage and longevity, and exceptional servicing.” Co founder Alex Michelin adds, “Everything’s custom made and bespoke. We designed every single piece.” As it turns out, even the napkins.

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The look is art deco influenced. The ethic is arts and crafts inspired. The art is intrinsic to the whole. “It’s a slightly different organic sensibility,” says Jiin Kim-Inoue, Finchatton’s Head of Design. “Harmonious, inviting, an almost lived in look… The rooms shouldn’t be loud, not with such an incredible view.” Across the road, golden illuminated letters shout “Harrods!” “We’ve used fibres such as wool, cashmere and horsehair, combining them with metals and other natural materials to create cleverly textured surroundings. Walnut and polished sycamore work with bronze, brass and steel. Nero Argento marble and crystal sit alongside buffalo horn and shagreen.”

Monochromatic Mondrianic mirror mouldings, television surrounds and bookcases complemented by infusions of jewel tones: amethyst, garnet, sapphire. Book matched black marble bathrooms and vein matched white marble bathrooms. Herringbone, hessian, pinstripe, check. Check. Soft calf leather banister rails sewn on site. Stingray leather covered desks. The haves and the have lots are demanding.

The names of the artists and designers and artist designers Finchatton commissioned for The Lansbury read like the better half of the Who’s Who of interiors. A Bruce Monro crystal rain shower installation across the three metre wide street level window. Maya Romanoff hand painted wallpaper. Gayle Warwick embroidered bed linen. Rima & McRae plasterwork. Loro Piana cashmere.

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The upper level of the 280 square metre duplex penthouse opens onto a roof terrace, an airy eyrie. Seating is arranged round a glass floor which doubles as the kitchen ceiling below. Spying on the chef has never been so easy. Later in the evening, a purchaser will pay a cool £1 million over the asking price for the penthouse. The communal elevator descends past three 170 square metre lateral apartments and a 130 square metre duplex apartment before reaching the ground floor triplex. This apartment dramatically drops two storeys below ground. Only in London would subterranean living be a high. One lower ground floor bedroom overlooks a three storey void; the other, a living wall in a light well. A cinema, gym and temperature controlled wine cellar – must haves – occupy the lowest level.

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The Lansbury is timeless yet capable of registering the passage of time. The concise correlation between outer order and inner sanctum is a deeply felt subliminal recognition. Finchatton establishes a layered yet cohesive language through an association of material and space, a sense of balance, an understanding of the uplifting effects that space and light have on the human spirit.

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As John Bennett wrote, “Wherever men have lived and moved and their being, hoped, feared, succeeded, failed, loved, laughed, been happy, lost, mourned, died, were beloved or detested, there remains forever a something, intangible and tenuous as thought, a sentience very like a soul, which abides forever in the speechless walls.”

Town Houses

Morpheus + The Chelsea Townhouses London


Morpheus. In Greek mythology he is the god of dreams. In modern day London he is the deliverer of über high end homes. The fulfiller of dreams. The face of Morpheus is dashing developer Andrew Murray. More anon. A forgotten site in a memorable mews is the latest location. The Chelsea Townhouses, just three of them, are each a mesomorph in mortar and marble composite.

Viewed along mutually perpendicular radii, the concertinas of the finned (to the front) and buttressed (to the back) elevations unfold in anamorphic monochrome. The triumphant triumvirate of light surface, shadowy void and dark glazing is as precisely incised as an Erhard Schön woodcut puzzle. Strips of vertical garden clinging to the rear buttresses provide light green relief.

This art of delaying access to deeper meaning is both metaphorical and physical. The Chelsea Townhouses are four up, two down. Their true verticality remains unrevealed by the delineated modernity of the façade. Two concealed levels lie below street level. Beyond the entrance doors, an airy expanse of lateral living comes as a visual and experiential surprise.

Garages are an integral part of the building envelope. “These houses are real ‘lock ups’,” explains Andrew. “You can drive straight into the garage, step into the lift, walk out of the lobby and you’re home. They’re incredibly secure.” When you’re not at home, Morpheus’ Residential Management Team cleans, carries out security checks, sets up floral arrangements in the first floor reception suite, and a Harvey Nics hamper in the double height kitchen will await you on your return.

This quintessentially upper crust concierge service is included in the purchase price (a snip at £10 million) for the first year. When you are at home, a sommelier will attend to parties while food rises up to the dining room on a mirrored servery, “London’s largest dumb waiter!” Andrew’s words.

Morpheus selected guest designers 1508 London to decorate the 900 square metres interior of the middle house. “We commissioned English designers and craftsmen for much of the furniture,” relates Andrew. “Herringbone and checked tailoring, Fromental wallpaper and Jura blue grey limestone present typical British understatement. Patinato Veneziano polished plaster and brass trimming add a touch of international glamour. Nothing is off the shelf. Everything is handmade.”

A cantilevered staircase resting on open risers with a glazed banister floats effortlessly upwards like a lightweight glacial artery. Andrew refers to it as the “natural flow”. He reckons the first floor winter garden has the best of both worlds, revelling in both display and privacy. This could be a metaphor for the house as a whole. The upper levels are filled with natural light and are used for entertaining: display. The ambiance changes on the lower levels to a duskier clubby feel: privacy. An acoustically panelled cinema and snug family room provide the ultimate underworld sanctuary.

In later Greek mythological writings, Morpheus morphs into the god of sleep. And so to bed. One of four bedrooms, the master suite occupies the whole of the top floor. To the front is the bathroom. A strip of windows facing onto a landscaped roof lights the swathing of bookended Italian marble. To the back, a roof terrace is accessed off the silk carpeted bedroom.

Over the last two decades in business, Andrew has witnessed the metamorphosis of London into the most desirable address in this world. “Demand is through the roof,” he observes. “The capital has one helluva lot of attractions, from culture – where else are museums free? – to a convenient time zone, generous tax structure, political stability, security of legal ownership and education.” Plus heavenly houses fit for the gods like The Chelsea Townhouses.