The art of the double life
An artist’s live/work apartment in an art deco Islington factory
Inspiration rarely confines itself to the regular nine to five, and so for anyone making their living as a creator – musician, painter, sculptor, etc – being able to act out their eureka moments the minute they hit is an essential component in producing work that reflects those spontaneous bursts.
Keeping life and work separate is seen as essential for a balanced existence. That’s easy enough when the job is at an office elsewhere, but the challenge for creatives is having a space to act in moments of inspiration, but that doesn’t eat into the sanctuary of home life.
This need for artistic nurturing is how live/work spaces were born. Pioneering developers hit upon the idea of delivering places to live that also fostered creativity: large workspaces and an area just for home, often with two entrances to support life/work separation.
There was what you might call a golden age of live/work spaces being created in London: the late 1990s and early 2000s when the idea of loft living was beginning to take off.
Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Wapping and Bermondsey were the forerunners with their ample collection of disused industrial buildings, but one of the standouts of that period – and still in fact today – is the Canal Building in Islington. Set on the banks of the Regents Canal between Angel and Old Street tubes, this gem of 1930s factory architecture is from a very different time of property development in London, reflected most succinctly in that no two apartments in the building are the same. Compare that with today’s trend for perfectly stacked identical units for maximum build efficiency over maximum delight.
Whenever we get an apartment in the Canal Building it’s a cause for celebration: the delight in showing the building and accommodation is one that never fades. So we were thrilled to be marketing this beautiful and flexible third floor live/work space for rent. With folding doors to separate spaces, two floors to add to the sense of separation and two entrances to increase the possibilities of use, it works remarkably well as either a one or two-bedroom apartment or in fulfilling its live/work status. In fact, the last three tenants have all been in the arts and set up a studio space to work from – proof if it were needed of a true creative pedigree.
The apartment was available at £800 per week, and is now let.