SUSD’s design for Tom Dixon’s water tower home in Ladbroke Grove.
Habitat design guru Tom Dixon will soon have an unusual new des res to fill with furniture — but he’ll have to come up with some curvy designs to fit it, writes Katie Puckett.
Planners in Kensington & Chelsea have approved the conversion and extension of a dilapidated 1920s concrete water tower that Dixon bought three years ago in his native Ladbroke Grove. Dixon enlisted longtime friend Peter Harris of design studio SUSD to come up with the plan, which adds 12m in height to the existing 18m structure.
“Tom is a big fan of brutalist structures and strong forms, and extruding the cylinder upwards is the purest way of dealing with it,” said Harris. “The planners really got the intention. Rather than short, fat and bland, they said let’s make a statement but quite a slender statement.”
The house will expand over nine storeys — yes, there is a lift — including four new levels, with two roof terraces. On the ground floor there will be an exhibition space for Dixon’s furniture, with the living rooms housed in an open-plan, double-height cube extension at first floor level. There will be four bedrooms and a study in the upper levels of the cylinder with a lofty penthouse reception room.
From the upper levels, Dixon will enjoy views over Portobello, the landmark Trellick Tower and neighbouring Kensal Green cemetery.
The industrial design theme will continue indoors. “We kept the existing legs and braces for the tower exposed, so there will be huge concrete beams floating above your head,” said Richard Pearce, a fellow director of SUSD.
The new envelope will provide high thermal performance, and the tower will draw energy from a ground source heat pump. The project features in Des Res: London’s Housing Challenge, an exhibition at New London Architecture opening April 24.