House tour video: St Katharine Docks E1




Architect & Developer: Great London Council

Hi, I’m Gus Zogolovitch and I run Rare Space.

We’re a design led agency, finding the best new homes and design led homes in London.

In this post we’re featuring a really cool flat and a fantastic opportunity, overlooking St Katharine Docks. You can see over the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, the Shard, and Tower Bridge. This really is an amazing location! Looking over water, what more could you want?

The property is in a place called the South Quay Estate, a building designed in the late 70’s, early 80’s, built by the GLC (as they were at the time, now Greater London Authority). It’s slowly been coming into the hands of private ownership, and it’s been very well maintained.

The flat which we’re visiting needs some work, but has amazing views. And I brought with me an architect who will tell us a little bit about what he thinks can be done to the flat, so you might be able to picture yourself doing something similar.

It is a great example of sort of post modernist architecture. And I think it would make a fantastic flat even for somebody who is looking to downsize and maybe wants a sort of pied-a-terre in this amazing location; or maybe someone looking for a starter home; a young professional couple; or a single person, wanting to get their first foot on the housing ladder.

So here’s some pictures of what it’s like inside, and some excerpts of our interview with Anthony the architect and tour of this cool flat.

Gus: We’re delighted to have with us Anthony Carlile of Anthony Carlile Architects. He’s going to give us some thoughts and tips on what we can do with this flat to really make it amazing. Because it’s got the fundamentals; it’s got the view, it’s got the location, it’s great value. What it needs is a little bit of artistic or creative flair.

Anthony: I think the architects for the GLC had actually quite good design reputation. And you can see that in the fundamental layout. For example it’s a west facing living room, so you get evening sun when you’re winding down at the end of the day. Or if you’re making your coffee in the morning, you’d get morning sunlight coming into the kitchen. Really fantastic.
I think the obvious differences between the 70’s and now are people nowadays when they’re cooking it’s quite a sociable occasion isn’t it? Whereas back then it was more of an insular thing. So the obvious things that people do is knock down the wall between the kitchen and the living room.
Gus: Looks easy to knock through, but of course some people quite like having the separation, so they can keep that separation if they want.
Anthony: That’s right, normally we would design it for somebody, so in the absence of a client these are just generalisations.
Gus: So first of all, what would you do in this room? I mean, I think the carpet probably looks like it’s from the 70’s, I think that probably has to go
Anthony: And the artex ceiling…
Gus: You think they’ll have to get rid of that, it hasn’t made a comeback…
But basically apart from that, and maybe the radiator, which is actually quite an interesting art piece now, you might want to keep the lounge as is.

Gus: What about the window frame, it’s actually very beautiful, but you’d be tempted to maybe changed that to a sliding door rather than a french door. What do you think, would you keep that, or refurbish that…
Anthony: I’d keep it.
Gus: Because it’s perfectly good actually.
Anthony: I think this is a good flat, a well designed, well made flat. And things like this door you know, people pay a lot for that now, because it’s quite cool I mean, no I’d keep that.

Gus: OK. And what about the layout?
Anthony: Do you know when you’ve got guests, and you come to the end of the night, and everybody’s trying to leave, saying goodbye and hugging etc, I always think these spaces need to be a bit bigger.
Gus: I agree.
Anthony: Londoners are always so scandalised by the costs of their homes I always find, and we always pay for it because it’s worth it, you know, to have your house where you feel peaceful. But if you’ve paid a lot for it you want to make the most of it. So you make it really efficient and put storage in, for things that you might not use so much.
Frank Lloyd Wright had this fantastic… well he introduced open plan space essentially. But he didn’t make it all open, he made it subdivided. So you’d have pockets of where you’d feel cozy, like an inglenook. So you can see into it, you’d know that the space was going around there, but you wouldn’t always be on show, for example if you want to sit and read your book. There may be something we could do like that. So you know that the space is open, you can get the light coming around but you’re not always… it makes it feel much better.
Gus: So I suppose you could potentially get rid of… maybe do a half a wall or something like that in the kitchen so you’ve almost got some of it where you can attach some full height storage.
Anthony: So whoever’s cooking can be chatting to those in the lounge and be part of the conversation too.

Gus: OK so Anthony we’re now in the kitchen. It’s not the biggest kitchen I’ve ever been in but it’s certainly not the smallest. You’ve got decent size on both sides of the room. What size do you reckon this kitchen is?
Anthony: 3 by… 3m by 3.5m?
Gus: But the fundamental structure like the window is good, it’s a lovely old window. So you know in this kitchen you wouldn’t actually need to do a huge amount to modernise it, would you?
You can replace the worktop, replace the sink, replace the cupboards but actually it’s not too bad, what are your thoughts?
Anthony: Well kitchens and staircases are two opportunities in a house to make something special. If you can afford it, put in granite, or marble. Hundreds of years ago, people used that to keep things cool.
Gus: If you change the lighting…
Anthony: Yeah, we’re getting a suntan here…
Gus: You can also build up in that corner, so you’ve got plenty of storage, and the washer can go under the counter. So there’s definitely some interesting modifications you can do in here.
Anthony: Made from robust things, you know? This kitchen is probably the space that will get used the most. And I know when I’m washing up I make a mess, it’s good to have a big sink that’s easy to wipe down.
Gus: Or double, my wife always likes a double sink.
Anthony: Yeah so you can rinse things. Keep it simple, but the floor as well. You want something quite tough in case you spill something.
Gus: Yeah, actually I’ve got lino on my floor and that’s lasted ten years of children doing all sorts of things to it. And it still looks pretty good.

Gus: So we’re now in the bedroom Anthony, and we just made this point, the windows are open here, the windows are open next door, and just hold on, let’s just listen for a second. We are in zone 1, you couldn’t get more central if you tried, and you can’t hear a thing. So in the bedroom, what would we do with this?
Anthony: I don’t think you’d do much at all.
Gus: No, I agree. It’s basically a bit of a strip out. Probably change the carpet again.
Anthony: Maybe the radiators.
Gus: Maybe the radiators, and I feel like something more interesting than the radiators. You could potentially put some underfloor heating in here. It’s a concrete floor. You could potentially…
Anthony: Get some mats.
Gus: Get a mat to give you underfloor heating and then you can take the radiator off.
Anthony: They always say if your feet are warm then you’re generally warm.
Gus: Yeah one of the advantages of being in a block of apartments, we’re on the 6th floor here, is that you’ll get heat from the other apartments so it will generally be a pretty warm flat.
So yeah I agree with you I think we wouldn’t do very much at all in here.
Anthony: The thing about this room is the view out!
Gus: Waking up, and then looking out onto the Shard, onto Tower Bridge, onto St Katharine Docks.
Anthony: That leads up to the upper pool of the Thames, doesn’t it, it’s a lock. There’s all these little cafes. It’s fab!

Gus: OK so we’re in the bathroom, I thought we’d better do the bathroom for completeness. Anthony, I think we’re saying that there’s not really much you’d change structurally here, you’d get rid of some of the stuff but actually what’s great if you get a builder is you can say get rid of that loo and put this loo in. It’s in exactly the same place. I think you’d keep everything in the same place, wouldn’t you?
Anthony: Yesa though you could put a bath in if you want.
Gus: You could put a bath in, there’s a shower in here already which is a disabled type shower. And actually the fitting’s probably OK for now.
Anthony: You’ve also got natural daylight.
Gus: A bit of natural daylight, a bit of natural ventilation. I think it’s all good, and ready to go.

So that’s the end of our house tour. A couple of things I wanted to point out. Number 1, I think this building is massively undiscovered. When I first came here I couldn’t believe the view and the location.

And for those of you old enough to remember when the Barbican wasn’t as incredibly fashionable and trendy as it is now, will know that the Barbican has gone through a huge value uplift. And I see absolutely no reason why this wouldn’t do the same. Because when people start to discover the kind of things that this has, it’s very similar, it’s really good solid stock built by the GLC, good 70’s design, and I think it’s a bit of an undiscovered gem if you ask me.

And Anthony pointed out, these views will stick around forever because these views and the buildings tend to be listed, and so that means you’re not going to get massive redevelopment. So you’re in here, you’re in here for good.

So to end this little tour, I’d like to thank Anthony, and I hope you agree that he’s done a fantastic job helping us understand what could be done to this flat.

Thanks so much for reading. If you have a fixer upper or a home that needs modernising like this to sell, please give the office a ring at 0203 815 5367, or email us at

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