Making the Grade | Amuse Bouche
Back on luxury. MD of private developer Landmass Alan Waxman argues, “High end finishes and spec? Home automation, silk carpet? Forget it. Not enough on their own. Luxury is something money can’t buy. Look over there,” pointing to a circular internal window. A contemporary take on the traditional oeil de boeuf, perhaps an oeil de hibou, an architectural amuse bouche*. “Great design, that’s what luxury’s about!” This opening from the reception room looking through to the hallway elegantly frames, offset, an off white sculpture against a white background. Behind us, a reflective circular fireplace is placed opposite the internal window. Clever.
We’re in 48 Belgrave Mews North, a Grade II listed house in the heartlands of Belgravia Conservation Area. This is Landmass’s latest, a reimagining of an 1820s mews house. Alan sees his role as being “like the conductor of an orchestra”. To extend the metaphor, the architect and interior designer are first and second violinists respectively. London living (there are really only two Zones) is all about maximising space and light. “When you have a more compact property like a mews house,” he notes, “you provide added value by applying your imagination and by creating extra space.” Landmass has boosted the floorspace by more than 50% to now total 230 square metres.
A new stepped rear extension helps. In the lower ground floor Alan declares, “We raised the ceiling height to 3.2 metres and inserted glass panels in it.” A retractable glass ceiling over part of the reception room above provides views of the sky. This arrangement not only contains the action at the lower level in a fluid orchestration of space and movement, but draws the eye upwards, capturing and filtering the natural light. On a sunny day the upper surfaces become an animated embroidery of light and shadow. But on a dull day like today the way that light is held in the tall enclosure is critical to the project’s spatial narrative.
In a happy convergence of atavism and luxury, another circular internal window is placed at the bottom of the glass balustraded staircase. It frames views of the kitchen family room. Above a copper fireplace almost stretching the full depth of this space is a set of 10 photographs from the collection of the late film director Michael Winner. Joy! Non Londoners won’t appreciate this, but oh the – dare we say luxury – there’s a window in the master en suite and dressing room and one of the other two en suites. Yes! A centrally positioned bed in the master bedroom allows for a wardrobe walkway behind. The flow of spaces continues heavenwards up to the splendid rooftop terrace: a pinnacle of space and light is reached.
*Amuse bouche. Something else money can’t buy. But if you’ve £7 million to spare you can buy 48 Belgrave Mews North and still have loose change left over.