The agents and project managers asked us for design ideas on an invited competition for this minute but characterful building in Soho.
The Grade II listed building had been the headquarters of Fintex, a Huddersfield woollen mill that provided fine cloth to the tailors of nearby Saville Row. It now housed a cafe on the ground floor and offices on the upper storeys.
The brief was to refurbish the building that housed poor-quality commercial office space and increase its value so the fund could sell it. The agents advised us that the best approach was for an office to residential conversion due to the small floor plates. So, from the outset, we analysed the ideal apartment mix to make the best use of the building and achieve the best value.
The original upper storey of the Grade II listed building was of low height and poor quality and didn’t match the Dutch style gables of the southern elevation of Golden Square. So we saw an opportunity to create an improved residential top floor that would complete the frontage of Golden Square.
The coffee shop shared the staircase with the offices above, with smells and waiters crossing paths with the office occupiers. We secured planning and listed building consent for two large apartments and alterations to the coffee shop by creating a rear extension to the café and a separate set of stairs.
The pension fund wanted to sell Fintex House with planning permission rather than develop the apartments themselves, so we partially implemented the consent so that the residential development above could be taken forward by the new purchasers.
It was part of a property portfolio owned by a pension fund, and on the back of this successful proposal, we went on to do a few more projects with the fund.