Blue sky thinking: the ultimate party pad in Primrose Hill
PUBLISHED: 18:48 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:13 03 February 2017
French + Tye
This luxury penthouse with a floating pool and roof that opens to the sky would make a James Bond villain weep with envy
A penthouse apartment floating above Primrose Hill with a hidden gated entrance. A roof that opens to the sky at the touch of a button. A swimming pool you can dive in to just stepping out of bed.
It sounds like something out of film, or a the kind of hyper luxe property you might find in Miami or Dubai, but this party pad is in fact tucked away down a row Victorian mews houses in Primrose Hill.
Designed by visionary architect Richard Paxton 15 years ago, the space still feels futuristic today.
Set mostly over one floor and entirely open plan, the apartment is accessed through unassuming steel doors on street level. Once inside you rise up through the staircase, coming to rest by the indoor swimming pool with glass sides.
The interior brings to mind a rocket launch pad, if the rocket had been designed by Karl Lagerfeld. The pool flows neon under colour changing neutron lights and the specially designed cantilevered roof retracts back to reveal a swathe of sky at a moments notice.
There’s something of a super villain’s lair vibe to the place; you half expect to see a shark or a giant jellyfish floating in the pool. The gadgetry is pure spy fantasy fuel, with all the technology from speakers to security controlled via an iPad.
“It is very James Bond,” says interior designer Mark Howorth of luxury interior design specialists Callender Howorth.
“It is very high tech. You’ve got all the toys in there.”
Cellender Howorth were bough on board by the owners to update the property for sale.
Bringing the property up to speed with the 21st century was no mean feat. It took Howorth and his team eight months of intensive work to transform the five bedroom apartment, but the chance to work on a piece of Paxton architecture presented a most fabulous challenge.
“Paxton was an incredible architect, a genius,” says Howorth. The architect, who was born in 1956 and died in 2006 was celebrated for his work during his lifetime. Architecture critic Kenneth Powell described one of his houses in Clerkenwell as “one of the great London houses of the late 20th century.”
Paxton was the architect of the Soho Theatre, as well as designing homes for private clients such as Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author the late Douglas Adams and comedian Griff Rhys Jones. His trademark style was one of an original approach to vertical natural light and feats of engineering brilliance.
“There is some fantastic real estate in London but this is just bonkers. We have never worked on something quite as unique as this. It is completely stratospherically different,” enthuses Howorth.
“The bones of it were exceptional. It was so extraordinary and so exciting to work with as a design team. We were honoured to carry the baton. To bring it back to life was a real joy.”
In order to see Paxton’s legacy through, the team at Callender Howorth had to think outside the box.
The huge glass panels that made up the size of the pool required reglazing, so they bought in experts from the Italian company who furnished the tanks of the London Aquarium for advice.
A new, natural filtration system was also installed, to prevent the house from smelling like a municipal swimming pool.
The retractable roof is a marvel of engineering. Prospective owners of a forgetful nature needn’t worry about leaving the house without forgetting to close the roof. If it senses inclement weather it closes itself in under half a minute.
At the back of the master suite gull wing doors lift up to reveal a rooftop terrace, the open wings forming a shady canopy.
With its vaulted ceiling and concrete floor the space, Howorth felt it veered towards the chillier side of industrial.
“It’s quite a big space and the cool grey tones made it cold and austere,” explains Howorth. “We introduced different finishes, such as walnut in the kitchen to warm it up a bit and make it more contemporary.”
They also resurfaced the polished concrete floor with more red undertones to imbibe the apartment with warmth. It’s several stops short of hygge, but by turning up the style thermostat Howorth has helped the house feel homier.
It’s far from homely, however. Howorth knows his high end clients inside out, and everything has been done to the impeccable standards demanded by those whose portfolios overflow with pieces of multi-million pound real estate.
“People buying at that level expect a certain things,” he explains to me. “They expect massive dressing rooms, they expect top dollar bathrooms. They expect a certain level of finish.”
The attention to detail goes far beyond the surface glamour of the floating pool and high tech light systems, and its bought the property a fair bit of attention. A celebrity DJ is rumoured to have viewed the property recently.
“It is very much a party pad,” says Howorth. “I know a lot of the people who have been looking at it are real party animals.”
Howorth admits that having a house that bears more than a passing resemblance to a nightclub might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but at this end of the market a property like this needs a big personality and a big bank balance to match the price tag, which sits north of £10 million.
“It is going to take someone who has a sense of fun, is a bit cheeky, but also who just falls in love with the sheer excitement of the place,” he says.
It is one of the most unique houses in London. It is just breathtaking. It makes me smile every time I walk in there. You walk up the steps and think ‘wow, this is absolutely crazy – in a good way.’”
Callender Howorth are currently offering a free consultation inside prospective clients homes. Email email@example.com for more details.
callenderhoworth.com / 0207 336 8560
Photography by French + Tye