Daniel Welham, co-founder of Fourfoursixsix architects, discusses the Heritage Collection, his company's new period conversion that's conjoined with Banda's Parkgate House in the heart of Battersea's creative quarter
Some friendships can ultimately change the course of your life. For Daniel Welham, meeting fellow architecture student Tim Ridd at university was such an occasion.
After graduating, Welham remained in London while Ridd, who is Anglo-Thai, moved to Bangkok to experience life in a different country. Arriving at a particularly dynamic and productive time, Ridd suggested his friend come over to work on a couple of small-scale projects with him. Those small jobs soon led to large ones and, as work began to pour in from both the UK and other parts of Asia, the duo decided to set up a practice together. The rest, as they say, is history.
‘Asia has always been a really exciting place to be,’ Welham enthuses, ‘and the process of starting a company was all very organic.’ Fourfoursixsix opened its doors in 2006, operating from offices in Bangkok and London’s creative Clerkenwell district. With Ridd based in Bangkok permanently and Welham back in England, both sides of the practice ran parallel to one another, as they do today.
Welham says: ‘our international presence has allowed us to look for work in other areas and makes it easier to discuss new projects with people on the other side of the world. Our office takes inspiration from various cultures, and that layering of experience has proven beneficial.’
The name Fourfoursixsix is a combination of the dialling codes of the UK and Thailand, reflecting this dual heritage and international mentality. Over nearly a decade, Fourfoursixsix has established a reputation as a technologically advanced interior architect, designing small-to-large-scale residential and commercial projects. It was named one of Wallpaper‘s ‘Top 20 World Architects of the Future’ in 2011, and has recently become involved in the master planning of post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand. However, with both directors now permanently based in London, albeit with a lot of long-distance travelling, Fourfoursixsix has taken on a number of projects in the capital, including Banda’s new Heritage Collection at Parkgate House.
‘Fundamentally, we lean towards modern design,’ Welham explains, ‘but with the Heritage Collection, there’s an exciting interplay between new and old, and Banda recognises that as something we really enjoy.’ A converted Victorian bakery in Battersea’s creative quarter, the Heritage Collection is set within the same building as Banda’s highly successful Parkgate House residential development. Welham continues: ‘We’ve had a good relationship with Banda for quite a few years and the Heritage Collection is a really enjoyable scheme. They’re a young, driven, passionate team – and so are we.’
‘When they are carried out well, historic buildings provide some of the most desirable residential spaces,’ he continues. ‘The typology has changed, but ultimately, the planning process has ensured the original scheme’s intents have been kept.’ Welham becomes particularly animated when discussing the abundant space inside the Hertiage Collection. Its generous 3m ceiling heights and impressive 2,000sq ft of lateral space have created ‘an amazing opportunity to work with,’ he says. The new residences will retain their period charm – the grand Victorian façade remaining intact – but have all the conveniences of a modern build.
‘It’s all about making sure that everything marries up nicely,’ Welham says. ‘They’re very well-made, thoughtful spaces with really considered, intricate detailing, yet they’re functional at the same time. You’re getting all the things you’d want with a new build, but you’re also getting that almost landmark pride.’
As architects who specialise in high-end interior design, Fourfoursixsix has been instrumental in delivering the project as a whole – not just the ‘shell’. Welham explains that he ‘cares too much’ to simply hand over the interior design to another company. The Heritage Collection benefits from beautiful finishes and ‘slick materials’, including marble-clad master bathrooms and parquet timber floors leading from the hallway to the huge open-plan kitchen-cum-living areas.
Compared to new builds, historic conversions tend to be more problematic. However, Welham maintains that all elements of the Heritage Collection have been plain sailing, saying: ‘There’s been nothing unduly difficult with this scheme, and part of that is due to the success of the co-ordination we’ve had with Banda.’ He mentions the ‘high level of synergy’ between Fourfoursixsix and Banda numerous times, and agrees that both companies have been on the same page throughout: ‘Everyone on our team has enjoyed working with Banda. They’re a very thought-driven developer – it’s all about the end user.’
So, with this in mind, what kind of people will the Heritage Collection attract? Welham mulls over potential owners, acknowledging that the apartments could appeal to young families just as much as solo buyers, and admits all parties are excited to see the outcome. He adds, ‘A Banda product is modern and high-end, but at the same time homely, relaxing and comfortable. Warmth and character are important to the Heritage Collection, and there are still “wow” factors to experience. It’s really interesting to see that blend come together.’