The growing popularity of build to rent developments and the professional landlord in the UK has kick-started a wave of interest in building and space design. The race is on for innovative new features that go over and above what tenants might reasonably expect from their rented accommodation.
Nowhere is this felt more keenly than in London. Tipi, the lifestyle-focussed rental operator at Wembley Park, is the perfect example. The team at the Manser Practice, who were responsible for the design of the Nest and the Deckhouse – Tipi’s two social spaces – were encouraged to look ‘beyond home’ for the perfect balance of public and private space.
The Nest offers residents a relaxed way to work from home while enjoying the company of their fellow tenants, with 100Mb/s broadband, soft seating and an HD TV. The Deckhouse is more social in nature, with a pool table, HD TV with Sky Sports, kitchenette and outside terrace and seating area leading on to an acre of private, landscaped gardens.
Rob Owen, Senior Interior Designer at The Manser Practice, shares his secrets of designing ‘the best way to live in London,’ as Tipi strives to be.
What was your inspiration for the Deckhouse and Nest?
We aspired to create spaces that strike the right balance between public and private – places that go ‘beyond home.’ We looked at various spaces that we felt achieved this, such as informal hotel lobbies, student accommodation common areas, break-out spaces in offices and espresso bars where the customer is comfortable enough to stay all day. Inspiration can come from the most unusual places. In this instance we were motivated by vintage games, and even repurposed an old pinball machine. A playful combination of pastels and bright colours pick out key features in the space while a soft and neutral background ties in with the building’s architecture and the finishes in the apartments.
Why did you design the spaces as you did?
We wanted our entrance lobbies to work hard and answer the many requirements of the residents, and we were keen that the whole space felt ‘designed’ and carefully considered from the moment you cross the threshold. The communal entrances and external spaces are integral to the overall resident experience. Both lounges are for relaxing, socialising and entertaining but in different ways. The Nest has a more restrained palette to give a comfortable and cosy atmosphere ideally suited to working from home or socialising in smaller groups whereas in the Deckhouse the design is more vibrant and conducive to larger gatherings. These differing groups are reflected in the range of spaces and seating provided.
What features did you feel were important to include for private rented sector accommodation?
The spaces had to feel like an extension of the tenant’s private space but also be inviting and exciting enough to be well used, offering a variety of facilities, from places to work to areas to host guests in the evening. Our goal was to create a sense of community through simple yet effective ideas ranging from a book exchange library to pool tables and board games. Superfast broadband is essential in any modern space, and here we have combined this virtual offering with other more tangible amenities like live sport showcases and self-service coffee machines.
Which particularly innovative or standout features would you like to highlight?
The flexibility of both the Deckhouse and the Nest are absolutely key to the design. We designed bespoke and playful modular seating which can be separated to open up the floor space as well as using multiple types of seating that can be used indoors and out. Hidden partitions in the Nest screen off a private area that can be rented out by residents.