Eran Chen is known for creating buildings that are radically innovative as well as fiscally and ecologically responsible. Since its inception in 2007, ODA has quickly become one of the most prolific and influential firms of its kind.
Q: How did you first get involved on this project?
Eran Chen: I’ve known IGI for some time now – they asked me what I thought of the site, which they had owned for quite a while at that point. They wanted my opinion as to whether these units could be converted to condos, and I confirmed that they would make a great condo conversion.
Q: What were your first thoughts about the building when you saw it?
EC: The way the existing building had been designed showed enormous potential to tempt occupiers beyond the building frontage, which was a huge advantage over other schemes in the area. I really believe that millennials will change city structures, bringing different needs to those traditionally served by cities. Usually, you have your apartment then you have the street – a private space and public space. Here at Long & Waterson we have interstitial spaces – interesting communal spaces for transitioning, gathering and creating a sense of community. It’s like a semi-public space. I see this as an essential differentiator of this scheme.
Q: And is this a concept that you carried throughout the design?
EC: Yes, this initial concept carried through to inform the inner garden, the lobby and the amenities, as well as the approach to the interior design. Alexandra Steed articulated it well in her work on the courtyard garden too, creating a place which encourages people to sit down, hang out, and mix with each other in a communal space.
Q: The interiors are very stylish and don’t have the typical look that a lot of other places have. How did you arrive at that approach?
EC: Shoreditch has an obvious character – it’s young, artistic and eclectic. The site itself has an interesting history too – there have been a lot of small carpentry shops here through the years. The interior scheme is a reaction to the use of materials in both the site’s history and in its current context – a vibrant artistic area. We filtered and refined all of this towards what we think this aesthetic will become in years to come.
Q: The overall scheme feels very different from other new developments in the area. Why do you think this is?
EC: I think we’ve kept the scheme very organic, with curves, white surfaces, and a richly landscaped inner garden. We also worked hard to ensure that we stayed grounded within the neighbourhood and encouraged congregation, interaction with nature and a sense of community – none of which you necessarily get in a modern tower block.
Q: This building has some pretty special amenities.
EC: Yes, it does! We come from New York where we’ve been redefining the amenity experience in new buildings. We wanted to bring this to London.
Q: Tell us about working with IGI as a developer.
EC: We’ve been working with IGI for a long time in both New York and London, so we have a huge amount of mutual respect, acceptance and acknowledgment. They are very involved, as a developer, and have some great ideas, so we have a great relationship. When a developer is as engaged as IGI, the process might be a bit more challenging because there are more voices – but ultimately the outcome is better as a result.
Q: Finally, what do you think of Shoreditch, coming from New York?
EC: I’ve really enjoyed Shoreditch every time I’ve visited. We work in similar areas here in New York so there’s synergy there. I love these types of neighbourhoods: they are a true expression of our ever-changing cities.