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How do you up­date a Mod­ernist land­mark for con­tem­po­rary liv­ing? We visit an apart­ment at the Bar­bican to find out

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Elle Decoration - Words JO FROUDE Pho­tog­ra­phy TOM MANNION Styling EN­RICO DONADELLO

The ren­o­va­tion of this Bar­bican apart­ment brings 21stcen­tury liv­ing to a Mod­ernist gem

Lon­don’s Bru­tal­ist Bar­bican Es­tate is ar­chi­tec­tural

Mar­mite, and has di­vided opin­ion since it was first built dur­ing the 1960s and 1970s. It was con­ceived as a utopia of func­tional liv­ing by ar­chi­tec­ture firm Cham­ber­lin, Pow­ell and Bon, and built as a trio of con­crete high rises with ter­raced hous­ing blocks. The Bar­bican Arts Cen­tre was added in 1982 and opened by the Queen, who de­clared it ‘one of the won­ders of the mod­ern world’. Since then, many have mar­velled at the build­ing’s gritty moder­nity, while oth­ers de­ride it as an eye­sore.

Bar­bican res­i­dent Ben Ash­worth, who works in pub­lish­ing, is firmly in the for­mer camp. He moved into the Grade Ii-listed Laud­erdale Tower in 2004 and, happy in his home, only con­sid­ered up­dat­ing the in­te­rior of his 100-square-me­tre apart­ment last year. He com­mis­sioned Bert Roze­man, an ar­chi­tect who had worked on an­other apart­ment on the Es­tate. ‘Ini­tially I had only con­tem­plated a sim­ple re­fur­bish­ment, but Bert could see the po­ten­tial here and came up with so many ideas for cre­at­ing ex­tra space that we ended up over­haul­ing the en­tire flat,’ Ben says of the five-month project.

Their up­dates cre­ated an open-plan in­te­rior lined with cus­tom­made stor­age and painted in two bold colours: red and blue. The two state­ment shades were mixed us­ing RAL colours (see our In­sider Guide on p247) and were cho­sen to vis­ually di­vide the func­tional spa­ces of the flat from ar­eas for re­lax­ation. The walls in the bed­room, med­i­ta­tion room, liv­ing and din­ing rooms, which all have win­dows over­look­ing the bal­cony, are painted red, while blue ap­pears in the kitchen, bath­room and util­ity room. Much of the fur­ni­ture is by Vit­soe (and, hence, Bri­tish made) and is teak, con­jur­ing a mid-cen­tury sen­si­bil­ity that ref­er­ences the his­tory of the build­ing.

Dur­ing the re­design two for­merly spare bed­rooms were turned into a study and med­i­ta­tion room, a move that makes the up­dated apart­ment much more tai­lored to Ben’s life­style. The med­i­ta­tion room was a par­tic­u­lar pri­or­ity for Ben, to help him de-stress and re-en­er­gise, and is lit by a be­spoke bio­dy­namic light­ing sys­tem that varies the bright­ness and colour of the ar­ti­fi­cial light to repli­cate nat­u­ral day­light. It’s thought to stim­u­late the body’s bi­o­log­i­cal clock and help to reg­u­late hor­mone and cor­ti­sone lev­els.

The cre­ation of a spa­cious kitchen in what was once a pokey, en­closed gal­ley space has also had a huge im­pact on Ben’s qual­ity of life. ‘ When I cook, I have views across Lon­don, which makes the en­tire flat feel more open and invit­ing,’ he says. ‘For me, the Bar­bican is the ideal lo­ca­tion for stress-free liv­ing. Al­most ev­ery­thing I need can be found on my doorstep, from the gym to su­per­mar­kets and bars, as well as some of the best restau­rants in the city. I don’t use the car for weeks on end and the gar­dens are an oa­sis – it’s easy to for­get you’re in the heart of the fi­nan­cial district.’ roze­man.co.uk

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