There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being at home; the familiarity of putting the kettle on for a cup of tea, or sitting down on your own sofa in front of the TV. But when you’re travelling, how do you replicate that feeling? How do you make someone feel as though they are truly welcome?
At Saco Apartments, making people feel at home is what they do. One of the UK’s leading providers of serviced apartments, they pride themselves on their warm, friendly welcome and the value, choice and flexibility that isn’t available in traditional hotels. So when Epic Properties, which owns, manages and develops real estate internationally, came to us with a brief to convert two buildings on the corner of Moorgate and London Wall into 21 serviced apartments for Saco, we knew that the success of the project would depend on us creating architecture that evoked a feeling of home from home. Here are five key emotions that we feel home evokes, and design solutions that helped us to address them at The Moorgate:
when you come home, you want to feel a sense of belonging – that you and your home belong to the space and place you are in. Originally built as townhouses in the 1780s and 1830s, the buildings on the corner of Moorgate and London Wall had been used most recently as offices and had become derelict and rundown, so we spent time making sure the interiors had a material palette and language that was rich enough to complement both the aparthotel’s historic context and its use as a home from home. The result is a move from a compressed, dark palette in the reception and lobby, with dark timber floors, joinery and ceiling panels, which then open up to light-filled living areas and bedrooms.
Comfort in buildings depends on the accommodation of the senses – the feeling of being warm, bathed in light, able to see and touch high-quality materials, and protected from the sound of other guests or the traffic outside. For the Moorgate, we specified high-quality windows, floors and services that created warm, light and sound- proofed spaces. Moreover, we restored and refurnished the building’s original fabric, including cornices, dados and window shutters, and inserted new, more contemporary elements in the kitchens and bathrooms.
When you arrive home, you want to feel safe from the world outside. So, we created a new main entrance on Moorgate that leads to an intimate, quiet and light-filled reception area in the heart of the building that provides a safe, secure “cocoon” for guests.
One of the distinguishing features of serviced apartments from simply renting an apartment online is the level of service that comes with it – the feeling of having a host who is willing to listen to your needs and accommodate them. At the Moorgate reception and concierge are kept deliberately discreet, but effective.
If belonging, comfort, security and care are the prerequisites for feeling at home, then the greatest pleasure or happiness comes from a feeling of delight. In The Moorgate, we strived to achieve this not just with the careful detailing throughout, but with the journey through the building, which takes guests up a sculptural, white staircase, bathed in the natural glow of a skylight, which is carefully designed to respond to the angles of the building, giving guests a feeling of surprise as they move up through the building.
Although we had not worked on an apart-hotel previously, we did the same as we do with any project where we are working in an old building: we thought about what the people who use the building are going to need, took a pragmatic look at the current context and worked with, rather than against, the original building. The result is a home from home experience whose success lies in the building’s occupancy; the apartments have been nearly continuously booked since their opening, with repeat bookings from several guests wishing to spend more time in the historic heart of the City.