LocationLondon, 375 Kensington High Street, Unit 5 Bridgeman House, Unit 5 Bridgeman House, W14 8AZ, United Kingdom
Lead architectAlmudena Navarro
Design TeamAlmudena Navarro, María Luz González Milán, René Wolter
Text description provided by the architects. The owners of Core Kensington– a Mexican-Norwegian couple – appointed us to design the new premises for their reformer Pilates studio in London. We set out to achieve a high quality, inspiring calm and bright space of highly bespoke nature where sports and architecture would go hand in hand. We wanted a space that would be in line with the expectations of Core Kensington’s unique clientele, who receive highly personalised training sessions of maximum 6 participants.
The project contains references to both Mexican and Norwegian design, including a celosía, the traditional Mexican perforated breeze wall, as well as douglas fir timber, commonly used in Scandinavian interiors.
The biggest challenge was to fit a relatively large brief into a very small unit, which required a focused approach to material selection and space planning. The space needed to fit nine large reformer Pilates machines, a reception area, two changing rooms, sufficient storage for all the props required for the classes, lockers for the clients, a toilet and a kitchenette.
With an aim to create a very open space and uninterrupted flow, we designed the project with the radical decision of only having one door, which is the one leading to the toilet and is a pocket door, so it is actually concealed most of the time.
At the centre of the space, a partition wall inspired by Mexican celosías separates the areas without compromising the studio's open feel. It also allows light and air to circulate through the space while creating an intimate atmosphere in the main studio.
In the reception area, one of the grey terrazzo tiles emerges from the floor to form a tree planter that acts as a barrier between the reception and the main studio. This prevents people from walking directly into the exercise floor, whilst allowing them to see the sessions through the leaves of the eucalyptus tree.
Through the playful use of timber, we managed to fulfil the large storage requirements of the brief. All items are stored behind doors, to avoid visual clutter, with the exception of the Pilates balls; the porthole openings make the position of the balls easy to find for the customers, whilst adding a bit of fun and colour to the design.
We designed all joinery pieces bespoke for the space. These were handmade by skilled joiner Juan Junca, and include complex details such as waterfall effect joints or cabinets made with the same board running from floor to ceiling. This makes the result quite architectural, and brings all the attention to the characterful and beautiful natural grain of douglas fir timber.
All materials have been put in place to be touched, and the tactile experience of the space is purposely made part of the experience of the exercise. The temperatures of the different materials create different sensorial experiences for the customers, bringing back full awareness into their bodies after the Pilates sessions.