A Conversation with Fitzjohn’s Architects Sergison Bates

Mark Tuff of Architectural Firm Sergison Bates discusses the inspiration behind the design of Fitzjohn’s, with influence drawn from the area and from architect Richard Norman Shaw.

How would you describe the design of Fitzjohn’s?

“Fitzjohn’s is a design that is, at its heart, about fitting into its place. We looked hard at the surrounding urban forms around the site, particularly the majestic villas which are each quite exuberant but also individual.

“The other aspect that has informed the design, which is more from the Hampstead Village end, is that of the mansion block. We were very interested in the mansion block as a typology, we wanted to design an apartment building that resonated with the past and the historical development of London. Fitzjohn’s is a building that has its own character but is then subdivided into apartments”.

How have you used the inspiration of Richard Norman Shaw to design the residences?

“Richard Norman Shaw designed the very first mansion block in London down next to the Royal Albert Hall; The Royal Albert Hall Mansions. He imported the continental idea of a large house made for multiple living into London.

“From an aesthetic point of view, Richard Norman Shaw was right at the Arts and Crafts cusp of designing, just turning from Victorian, and this style of design was a really big inspiration for us. We designed Fitzjohn’s in English Arts and Crafts style using the sense of carefully made aesthetics, that appear to be put together by hand, not using the industrial aesthetic of Modernism. Arts and Crafts buildings have a sense of a multicellular living where not everything is revealed when one enters the apartment, the public spaces are revealed after an entrance hall”.

How are each of the apartments in Fitzjohn’s unique?

“There are different types of space that residents can choose to spend their time in, they might prefer to be in the East side in one particular type of living space in the morning but in the afternoon may want to be in a snug space that is separate.

“Similarly, in terms of night-time space we felt it was important that the plan was organised so that often, there are two different areas for bedroom spaces with a possibility of them being quite separate. This could mean a couple could sleep in separate beds or that a carer could live in the apartment, or of course family who are visiting could have their own bed. It felt important to offer this kind of independence in the apartments at Fitzjohn’s.”