The enormous potential for Bakery Place was immediately obvious to developers West Eleven. Will Herrmann, CEO, was charmed by this sensational, unique building and its unbeatable location on his first visit.
How would you define West Eleven’s ethos?
We create distinctive and unique homes. We have no desire to build identikit boxes. We look for opportunities where we can create something special, leaving a positive mark on a neighbourhood. We believe developments should compliment and reflect their surroundings, drawing from and amplifying what is good. Whether a restoration project like Bakery Place or a new build, we want to create cutting-edge, well planned, functioning homes that are better than the ordinary. We work with people who think like us and are proud to have assembled an energetic and creative team of architects, engineers and designers who share our aspirations.
What inspired you to purchase and develop Bakery Place?
The possibilities for this incredible site were immediately obvious. It is a sensational building, full of character — no two aspects are the same. High vaulted ceilings, wrought iron columns, glazed bricks, a Victorian cobbled mews overlooked by Juliette balconies; it’s a unique piece of London. The location is equally fantastic — five minutes’ walk from Clapham Junction station, but when you stand in the mews it is utterly peaceful.
What was your favourite part of the build process?
Watching the building starting to resemble the initial concept. Seeing the product of those initial, excited design meetings and some of the more ambitious ideas come to light was very satisfying. The main roof of The Bakehouse was also a highlight. This was an extraordinarily challenging part of the project, as we had to replace it entirely in order to create the magnificent Penthouse space we now have. The distance to Altenburg Gardens and the restricted access of Lavender Walk meant that using a crane to bring in large steel was not an option. The roof we now have is the product of some brilliant engineering that reduced the structure into a series of small pieces, allowing each part to be carried in by hand. We had an amazing architectural team working on Bakery Place and the result is the product of their excellent design.
And the most challenging?
Retaining the key features and ethos of the old building and being true to its heritage, whilst creating crisp, modern, luxury apartments. Striking the balance between old and new and not allowing an expression of the past look pastiche is a fine balancing act.
How does the final result compare to your aspirations for the build?
It exceeds it. We uncovered some wonderful original detail during the project that we had no idea was there at the beginning. Walk through the apartments and you will see parts of the original glazed brick walls, textures and memories from the buildings’ origin that have been retained. These Victorian details juxtaposed against the clean cut, precise lines of the new walls create a wonderful mix of old and new that looks spectacular. The handmade kitchens with copper trims are another example of the finishing touches that elevate the development to the next level.
Why do you believe Battersea is so popular with Londoners?
Battersea is super-connected — Clapham Junction takes you to most places in London quickly but has everything you need locally too. Northcote Road and Battersea Rise have a fantastic selection of shops, bars and restaurants and there are three huge commons and Battersea Park. There is a strong sense of community here; it’s full of people who have made Battersea their long-term home — unlike a lot of London that can feel pretty transient.
You’re a south London resident, what are your local tips for those unfamiliar with the area?
Make the most of it — it’s all on your doorstep. Explore the commons and the park, play tennis or go for a run along the river. Venture to Northcote Road during the the weekend, soak up the atmosphere and get your fresh bread from The Bread Stall (a Battersea legend). Enjoy some of the brilliant gastro pubs, watch a play at Battersea Arts Centre or Theatre 503 and enjoy a cocktail at one of the many late-night bars a few minutes’ walk from Bakery Place.