Cool Kid on the Block

Alia Akkam • June 1, 2017

Photos: Shoreditch

Shoreditch is at once a creative hub filled with tech startups, galleries, and coffee shops, while also being known as a hotbed of nightlife and multicultural cosmopolitanism in London’s East End. For many offbeat travelers, it is a sought-after destination, a chance to see the city through a lens different from the polished one magnifying classic landmarks like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. Fashionable hotels thus continue to thrive in Shoreditch.

Following in the footsteps of such buzzy properties as the Terence Conran-designed Boundary and the Ace London Hotel Shoreditch from local firm Universal Design Studio, as well as citizenM, the M by Montcalm, the Hoxton, and Z Hotels outposts, is a slate of boutique newcomers to the area.

Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch
Last year, the Old Street Magistrates’ Court morphed into the 128-room Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch, complete with a pool and cinema. Working hand in hand with Belfast-based Consarc Architects and UK firm Sundara was the hotel’s director, Girish Sanger. Like he did with the Courthouse Hotel in Soho, a conversion of the Marlborough Street Magistrates’ Court, Sanger made it a priority to retain historic elements. “There is an impressive stained glass window above the grand, raised entrance to the hotel, and we used the design of it throughout the interior,” he explains. Oak paneling was restored and terrazzo flooring preserved, as were one-time prison cells, where patrons who imbibe at Jailhouse Bar get to perch. “In the new block at the rear of the hotel, we have gone more modern with a geometric and abstract design, but still retain heavy, traditional molding on the walls [taking] influence from the former use and style of the original front building,” adds Sanger, who also integrated industrial touches like tables trimmed in rusted steel studded with bolts. A collection of unusual portraits playfully paying homage to notorious courthouse personalities includes Mona Lisa behind bars. Such a sense of whimsy is also on full display in the Playground, decked out with table tennis and a bowling alley.

The Curtain
This summer, Michael Achenbaum, cofounder of Gansevoort Hotel Group, is poised to unveil the Curtain (named for its location on Curtain Road). A 120-room hotel featuring a private members’ club and the second location of New York chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster (plus a taqueria), it is crowned with a Moroccan-style heated pool and all-day brasserie LIDO on the rooftop that’s exclusive for guests and members. “A key focus was to ensure each area has a unique character that represents its intent and function,” says Chad Rogers, vice president of Dallas-based Design Duncan Miller Ullmann, who oversaw the project. The lobby, for example, has punches of color and unexpected art to conjure sophistication, while the performance space is “where guests can enjoy live bands and revel in debauchery among the infamous CBGB-inspired interiors,” he points out. Rogers also wanted the Curtain to be infused with the energy and bohemian vibe synonymous with Shoreditch, which was achieved by melding pieces from rock ‘n’ roll photographer Mick Rock with materials—“we tried to maintain their raw state as much as possible”—like hand-scraped wood flooring and ceramic bath tiles with patterned mosaics. A brick and mortar façade “also maintains the integrity of the buildings that surround the Curtain,” adds Rogers.

Nobu Hotel Shoreditch
In July, the first Nobu-branded hotel in Europe arrives in Shoreditch, with architecture originated and then completed by London’s Ron Arad Architects and Ben Adams Architects. Embodying the portfolio’s devotion to minimalism is the mix of overhanging floor slabs with cantilevered steel beams and a landscaped garden. “The hotel’s narrative is a balance of the senses; a visual impression of tactile surfaces that resonate with the food, drink, and sounds of a Nobu,” says Carolynne Stanton, cofounder of local Studio Mica, which was tasked with crafting the hotel’s interiors. “As a studio in East London, it was imperative that the neighborhood we have treasured for so long was well reflected in the interior design. Guests will feel they are a part of Shoreditch’s cultural integrity. We are aware of the constant process of change the area is undergoing.”

Stanton and her team felt a responsibility to respond to these shifts and subtly underscored the onset of Shoreditch luxury through such thoughtful guestroom details as a wall of moving artwork and screens uncovering a full-height picture window overlooking the city, as well as a “discrete door within a black joinery slatted wall that reveals a minimalist white bathroom accented with a custom brass ceramic basin.” The centerpiece of the room, reminiscent of both a travel trunk and bento box, she adds, is where Nobu’s signature tea ceremony unfolds. For the public spaces, timber, dark stone, and woven textiles contrast with surfaces of patinated metal. This richly textured aesthetic continues in Nobu’s eponymous restaurant, where Malibu, California-based Studio PCH adorned it with bronze-finished metal, concrete, and fabric-wrapped wall panels to complement the stunning back bar of exaggerated scale.

One Fairchild
Looking ahead to the end of 2018, a 200-room London debut from Highgate designed by Gensler’s local office will be part of One Fairchild, a mixed-use facility marrying imaginative offices with the hotel’s public and F&B spaces. Senior associate Valeria Segovia Trigueros says, “The building will mediate between its two neighboring communities: Shoreditch and the city, two distinct environments in which very different activities, personalities, and atmospheres exist.” To tell the story of Shoreditch’s industrial heritage, she says that dark gray pre-cast concrete panels are assembled at the base and lower levels of One Fairchild, while the upper ones flaunt glass-fiber reinforced concrete, all juxtaposed with black metal framing. The materiality takes cues “from the local urban grain with a raw, gritty, and dynamic appearance,” she says. “The dark metal intends to remind the viewer of the factories, warehouses, and loft buildings that once stood nearby.” hd