North London loft apartments: some of our favourite buildings

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Picture of Paul Travers

Paul Travers

North London is a funny old bird, famed as much for its snobbish contempt of South London as it is for posh Georgian and Victorian neighbourhoods. Yet despite that reputation built over years of solid practice, she has a knack for taking whatever property culture comes along and making it her own.

Probably home to most of London’s best new builds and contemporary additions to period houses, North London contains some of the city’s most ground-breaking, and indeed earliest, lofts. That said, the concentration lies within the N1 postcode, with Islington an anomaly among its N-eighbours: vastly more open and infinitely more alive.

N1’s border with London’s loft royalty  – Shoreditch and Clerkenwell – is a major player in its quota, with even ultra-Shoreditchy hangout Hoxton Square part of the postcode. But let’s not forget the rich industrial swathe that arcs around the city fringe to take in former grimy wastelands like Pentonville, Holloway and Kings Cross with their rich pickings of disused factories and warehouses, now firm fixtures in London’s loft catalogue.

 

YORK CENTRAL, YORK WAY N1

York Central King's Cross North London Loft Apartments

The former headquarters of the British Poppy Foundation, this beautiful red brick building from 1925 has been many things, from the manufacturing place of the Remembrance Day poppies, to a toy importer’s warehouse, to the home of bridal wear firm Pronuptia. 

In 1996, long before Kings Cross became ‘a thing’, York Central was converted into about 20 massive living spaces that were among as some of the first North London loft apartments. With floor plates of  2,000-3,000 ft², they’re among the largest in London and were originally sold as shells. Each is fitted out in a unique fashion, with some keeping the exposed concrete ceilings and pillars for a gritty urban edge, while others are painted white for a slicker, brighter flavour. Many have roof terraces, and all exude a beefy sturdiness.

THE FACTORY, SHEPHERDESS WALK N1

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One of London’s first Manhattan Loft Corporation projects,  The Factory was developed around the same time as Bankside Lofts in South London and Port East Apartments in Canary Wharf. Marketed with an Andy Warhol-style brochure, the building took the name of the artist’s New York studios and slapped it on a former print works in Hoxton. 

That was in 1998, and, to this day, The Factory has retained a place at the top of the league of London’s lofts. The timeless conversion into 37 lofts and 13 penthouses harnessed all the good stuff from the building’s industrial heyday and left a gritty blank canvas for a new wave of incoming creatives to make their ideas real.

Take a look at this 1,300 sq ft apartment currently for sale at The Factory.

CANAL BUILDING, SHEPHERDESS WALK N1

North London Loft Apartments - The Canal Building N1

With a gorgeous setting on the Regent’s Canal between Islington and Old Street, the Canal Building has stayed a firm favourite among the North London loft living crowd since its conversion into apartments in 2000. The building easily pulls in people from neighbouring Shoreditch and Clerkenwell who might otherwise turn down an Islington address. 

Absolutely massive windows overlook the water from the apartments inside this former 1930s factory, where white walls and exposed concrete are the order of the day. The apartments were originally sold as shells and perfectly capture the industrial essence of the building, which also has a communal roof terrace and underground parking.

 

HOFFMAN SQUARE, CHART STREET N1

North London Loft Apartments Hoffman Square

As you walk through the grounds of Hoffman Square, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into the peak Brideshead Revisited times of 1930s Oxbridge. There’s a certain collegiate feel to the address where a pair of Grade II Listed buildings were converted. With a history that goes from haberdashery to primary school to furniture design college, Hoffman Square pretty much sums up the evolutionary trail of the City Fringe. 

Beyond its gates, you’ll find 40 lofts, with no two the same. Double height voids, galleried mezzanines and low partitions form the structural canvas with a smattering of girders and skylights. Cementing its cool credentials is a location about 3 minutes walk from Hoxton Square and Old Street.

 

ROYLE BUILDING, WENLOCK ROAD N1

At the junction of the Regent’s Canal and Wenlock Basin, about halfway between Old Street and Angel, The Royle Building was converted from printworks to lofts in 2000 by developers Lemon Land, to a design by Davy Smith Architects. Great for those who like it raw, there’s plenty of grit-blasted brickwork AND concrete on show. 

Depending on an apartment’s location within the building, there are some great views over the water and the immediate neighbourhood. With lofts in various shapes and sizes, The Royle Building includes several smaller units around 500ft² that, while disqualifyingly small to loft purists, do at least deliver a level of (relative) affordability.

 

COLINA HOUSE, COLINA MEWS N15

North London Loft Apartments Colina House

The leafy Victorian suburb of Harringay is the unlikely home for Colina House, a converted factory of just fivelofts, with an adjacent trio of modern mews houses. The development gives anything in Shoreditch a serious run for its money and shows that you can find North London loft apartments in the most surprising places.

The building began as an organ manufacturer (supplying the organ to the Coliseum Cinema that used to stand nearby) and later became the very first outlet for Majestic Wine. 

Yawning chasms is the phrase that springs to mind. Big, gritty spaces that are as true as can be to authentic loft culture: original rustic floorboards, exposed brickwork, loading bay doors, warehouse windows and plenty of timber beams on show. With its improbable location and limited number of lofts, you get a real sense of discovery as you turn into the street, and a delicious feeling of being let into a secret when you stand inside.

 

THE YOO BUILDING, HALL ROAD NW8

Lofts in Maida Vale? Whatever next? 

This former telephone exchange was built in 1937 and, when converted into lofts in 2000, was the launch project of Yoo, a collaboration between the property entrepreneur John Hitchcox and über famous designer Philippe Starck. If Manhattan Loft Corporation brought loft living to London, then Yoo took it to designer status. 

The Yoo Building is not about gritty, raw spaces. The lofts within are immeasurably slicker affairs that make great use of the original crittall windows and tall ceilings, but otherwise, look firmly forward. The sleek designer specifications are all about opulence, luxury and extreme comfort. And who can argue?

 

Did you enjoy our selection of North London Loft Apartments?

 

Did we include your favourite, or do have a suggestion for another building that should make the list?

 

If you’d like more inspiration around industrial living spaces, take a look at our pick of East London loft apartments.

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