Turning a derelict furniture workshop into stunning live/work space was no easy task.


The furniture, including the dining table, was designed to maintain a utilitarian look throughout. Photo: Rachel Whiting

Looking for a plot in London, architect Henning Stummel and film producer
Alice Dawson realised that competition for space would be fierce, but they couldn’t have imagined that their search would lead them to a run-down 265 sqm industrial building in Camden. It was a struggle even to buy the rusting shell, which was sandwiched between Victorian housing that for decades had been propped up by the frail, rickety structure.

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Once the old asbestos roof had been removed, Henning replicated the sharp industrial look with new corrugated steel  Photo: Rachel Whiting

Demolish and rebuild

The task became harder when the couple had to make the decision to pull down the trusses that had attracted them to the property in the first place. They essentially had a new build on their hands, but without any consent to turn it into a home.

It took the couple nine months to get planning permission, after producing a convincing case that the building was no longer suitable for industrial use. ‘We had fallen in love with the space and we didn’t want to change it into something else,’ explains Henning. It was no easy task: there were obstacles at every turn and the delicate structure made the couple’s dream of keeping the original steel framework impossible. But by starting from scratch with new trusses, they were no longer required to pay VAT, which meant that they were able to save a substantial £50,000.

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The kitchen worksurface was made with poured concrete, provided by the company that supplied the screed flooring. Photo: Rachel Whiting

Plywood boxes

Huge windows and a roof lantern made it ideal to site Henning’s office at the front of the building. A big built-in storage wall served to separate the workspace from the kitchen and dining areas. The cosy living area benefitted from having a compact patio off to one side, and the back of the building was dominated by memorable cubic structures. Made of birch-ply, the cubes contained the main bedroom and a guest bedroom on the ground floor, while upstairs was dedicated to a snug area and indoor balcony.

Henning certainly put his unique stamp on this project but also cleverly referenced its former life: ‘You could mentally take the boxes away and see the factory hall,’ he said.

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Bedrooms are tucked away in the box installation and are warmed by underfloor heating Photo: Rachel Whiting

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