Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
Owner: Capital & Counties Properties PLC (Capco)
Location: London, United Kingdom
This project creates a new district with a public courtyard at its heart in London’s storied Covent Garden. Where open-air cafes, market stalls, and street performers have long intertwined, Floral Court’s mixed-use scheme feels both contemporary and as if it has always existed. Its assemblage of individual projects that combine retail and residential uses both new and period buildings in the city’s historic core.
The design team organized Floral Court around the guiding principles of improving London’s public realm, conservation, and the replacement of previously non-contributing architecture. The project’s public courtyard has quickly become a popular destination, and its exterior spaces boast tailored details that lend it an interior feel and enhance their room-like environment. Key elements of the district’s historic fabric have been restored and repurposed while new details, such as a set of ornate gates inspired by a historic balcony, evoke its heritage.
Floral court adds 31 new and refurbished apartments as well as 14 converted serviced apartments housed in a number of historic row houses. To make way, an insensitive 1980s office block has been replaced by a contemporary building and a redundant substation was removed to create a discreet garden entrance for the new apartments, called the Floral Court Collection.
For the new apartments, contemporary architecture was woven between various styles of historic buildings. Facades of handmade brick and steel-framed windows echo the warehouses surrounding the district but remain modern in their scale and proportion. An old warehouse and the ornate interior of the former boardroom for the Westminster Fire office now function as the apartments’ main entrance and additional historic interiors remain available for residents’ use. An asymmetric arrangement of bay windows that recalls stacked fruit and vegetable crates of a former market makes a dramatic architectural statement at the corner. Inside, timber window seats provide residents a unique view down Floral Street.
The sheer number of historic buildings and the tight site prompted a number of construction challenges. Foundations and pilings were executed with minimal disruption to neighbors, and a restaurant and covered historic passageway on the edge of the site were able to remain open during construction.
Since opening, The Floral Court Collection has outperformed the local market and the serviced apartments have been exceedingly popular. Floral Court’s regular presence on social media demonstrates how it has fundamentally changed a sector of Covent Garden and enchanted the public.
"The Floral Court project enhances the public realm and the way it is experienced through the thoughtful and intentional manipulation of outdoor space and architecture and through the artful use and detailing of the materials utilized. Its genius is that it expertly manages to be both a modern architectural expression and contextual within the patchwork of an existing historic fabric." - Jury comment