Signature at Highgate – Design Inspiration

Highgate is a suburban area of North London at the corner of Hampstead Heath, divided among three London Boroughs: Haringey, Camden and Islington; and is one of the most expensive London Suburbs in which to live. It took root around a village green that was peppered with ponds and elm trees on the edge of the Bishop of London’s hunting estate. It gets its name from these hunting grounds that adjoined the Bishop’s land where there was a high, deer-proof hedge surrounding the estate. This ‘gate in the hedge’ was where the Bishop erected a toll-gate and in 1354 the first record of the name Highgate can be found.

From the 16th century, impressive houses were built along Highgate Hill and in Georgian times the area became highly fashionable as a country retreat for wealthy City workers. Highgate is surrounded by some of London’s most stunning landscapes: Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Waterlow Park that was given to the public by Sir Sidney Waterlow as a ‘Garden for the Gardenless,” in 1889.

It is said Dick Whittington sat upon a milestone on Highgate Hill on his way back home to Gloucestershire where inspired by the distant sound of Bow Bells, he turned again to find fame and fortune in London. Highgate is also famous for its Victorian cemetery that opened in 1839 and attracts visitors from all over the world. It is home to numerous famous people such as Karl Marx, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti, William Friese- Greene, Henry Moore, Malcolm McLaren and Douglas Adams.

Highgate’s most important 20th Century buildings are Highpoint One and Two, designed in the 1930’s by Berthold Lubetkin.  Built originally to provide housing for Sigmund Gestetner’s Tottenham Hale workers he changed his mind and sold them privately! Now Grade 1 listed, they were once described as “the single most celebrated Modernist buildings of the 1930’s in London.”

Signature at The Bishops Avenue, Highgate

The site of Signature’s Flagship home at Highgate is located on The Bishops Avenue. The road connects the North side of Hampstead Heath to Kenwood House and is considered to be one of the wealthiest streets in the world with a nick name of Billionaires Row. Its houses are vast, with colourful histories: Homes for Swindlers, Exotic Royals, Industrial Tycoons, Billy Butlin and briefly, Justin Bieber!

Hollywood star Gracie Fields and sugar magnet William Lyle were amongst its earliest residents, and a road that once had a reputation equal to Rodeo Drive has over the years deteriorated and evolved into a series of boarded up, rotting mansions set behind security gates with few signs of life due to many of the properties being purchased as tax havens for shell companies.

Today, The Bishops Avenue’s fortunes are on the turn with new life being injected back with the development of apartment complexes and exciting new developments such as Signatures’ newest 96 Apartment care home. The Interior Personality has taken its inspiration from the diverse architectural styles and characteristics that make up Highgate. Combined with a layer of 21st century technology the intention is that each space will offer a different experience for those whose worlds have, out of necessity, become a little smaller.

The Grand Lobby, Reception, Café & Cosy Corner has been influenced by Highgate’s modernist buildings, with clean lines and the introduction of luxurious finishes such as marble, decorative plaster and crisp metal trims creating a real WOW! A dramatic chandelier creates a visual connection with the floor below and the elegant staircase provides the all-important physical link.

The areas atmosphere will be created by the people and activities that happen within. The symmetrical proportions of the Lounge with its alcoves, panelled walls and decorative plaster covings are reminiscent of Georgian Regency. It is these rhythmic details that provide a calming interior for residents to sit and relax. Generous windows not only connect the space to the gardens but provide natural light into the room.

Like the Grand Lobby, the Bistro also lends its interior to modern Architectural design principals with its simplistic forms and linear elements that will ensure this areas interior connects and sits comfortably with the Grand Lobby. The materials however will be softer and more comfortable such as timber panelling, wallpaper and textured upholsteries making it inviting and a relaxing location to dine. On the lower ground floor the Lounge Bar has been influenced by the Victorian style being both opulent and extravagant with its ornate marble bar and decorative three quarter high wall panelling. The ornamentation of the feature wallpaper that wraps around the high level walls onto the ceiling is very much in keeping with the Victorian principals of ‘more is more’! With no windows its atmosphere will be created through clever light settings that can be varied throughout the day and evening.

In contrast the Restaurant & Private Dining Room’s light and airy feel take inspiration from the Edwardian era and are less ornate than the Victorian influences found in the Lounge Bar. The introduction of a colonnade screen divides the dining areas from the lower ground circulation space, whilst
still providing a visual connection to allow light to pass from the restaurant into these areas.

The Emporium Hair Salon & Therapy Room interiors will echo the simplicity and symmetry of the Neo Classical period created from sumptuous finishes where relaxation and personal well-being is the underlying goal, whilst the Cinema will be strongly influenced by the extravagance, glamour and exuberance of the Art Deco period. The Garden Room provides another smaller activity space and a transition from the indoors into the gardens where residents can stroll in the newly created landscape or take part in outdoor activities.

Those living within the Dementia Communities will be surrounded with familiarity and clearly laid out spaces that are safe and easy to navigate.
The Quiet & Pocket Lounges will provide separate spaces where groups can participate in nosier activities or individuals can have fully immersive one on one reminiscence sessions with the rooms calming LED colour changing lighting and audio visual presentations. The residents will also benefit from direct access to the garden from the ground floor community with space to linger, participate in gardening activities or outdoor games.

In summary, the rich and diverse architecture that defines the character of Highgate has provided the inspiration for the interior design. The shape of the spaces will encourage the residents to feel part of a real community, with design details and presentation reflecting the local architectural heritage combined with modern technology to make a stylish, comfortable and inspiring place to live and work.