Architecture studio moreno:masey have completed the construction and fit-out of the award winning Aria House – a large duplex penthouse apartment with the unique position above the Grade II listed Playhouse Theatre on the Victoria Embankment. The unique positioning and height of the apartment allows heart-stopping and ever changing views, uninterrupted from St Pauls to Big Ben.
Work on the project began in 2015 after lengthy discussions and meetings with the planning department started back in 2011.
Internally the aesthetic is crisp, simple and modern. Working with the owner to develop a personal, contemporary style, the palette is carefully controlled using a small number of hand-selected materials, assembled and composed with exceptional care. An honest selection of natural stones, timbers and simple bronze details are combined and re-combined to create a coherent space which allows each room in the apartment to have its own identity, whilst part of a whole.
The plan wraps around the ventilation tower for the theatre, which creates a narrow entrance at the seventh floor, further accentuated by the length of the building. The double height staircase volume is used to punctuate the circulation, punching daylight deep into the plan and drawing the eye up the full height wall panelling of the stair.
Ahead, the cavernous living space, with glimpses of The Eye beyond the terrace walls, draws you past the kitchen and study to reveal lateral views towards the City, tied together with a single continuous smoked herringbone floor. Large expanses of bronze framed motorised glass screens open out onto the Thames connecting inside and outside seamlessly.
Upstairs the private sanctuary, The Master Bedroom, with its own mind-boggling terrace faces south onto the river, with dressing room and open plan bathroom behind.
Speaking to Premier Construction magazine, Rodrigo Moreno Masey, founder of moreno:masey said: “One of the main aspects of the site is the roof terrace so at the seventh floor I was keen that we chopped the nose off of the building so you were able to appreciate the river in a 150° to 200° view all the way from St Pauls back to Big Ben, so in cutting off the volume at the front we had to find the additional floor space elsewhere.”
Roof lights perforate the eighth floor, flooding the bathroom and dressing room with natural light. Detailing in these rooms is precise and considered, with simple joinery, rich timber panelling and luxurious bathrooms.
A project of this scale and complexity is always filled with complications not least working with listed buildings, which require special care and consideration both in design and during construction.
Rodrigo commented: “An opportunity to work on a scheme like Aria house is in itself extremely rare. This project is the culmination of a hard fought Listed Building Consent, a client invested in architecture and a truly unique location, poised above the Thames. The stage was set to enable our practice to deliver beautiful but measured design, focused on light, materiality, detail and the view. I’m very proud of our penthouse; it is a joy to count it amongst our projects.”
The project has recently been awarded the award for Best Apartment at the 2017 Evening Standard New Homes Awards.
Commenting on receiving the award, Rodrigo said: “As a young practice we are very design focused and design led and what we do is about creating the most beautiful spaces we can within listed buildings, within the requirements of a developers financial constraints and all of those things go against creating what might be considered beautiful and spectacular spaces, but to be able to get the recognition of the readership of the Evening Standard is incredibly exciting because it means that the work we are doing is communicating with the public and getting the recognition that as a young practice we wouldn’t necessarily expect.”