London’s East End welcomes a new design leader

London’s East End welcomes a new design leader

The imposing Bethnal Green Town Hall, which has stood in the heart of London’s vibrant East End since Edwardian times, is set to reopen its doors in May 2010 with the opening of Town Hall Hotel Apartments.  After a visionary extension and a sensitive restoration under the direction of Rare Architecture, Town Hall will offer a new concept for London’s culturally diverse and energetic East End. Created by entrepreneur and hotelier Peng Loh, the spacious 98 hotel rooms and apartments combine the amenities and luxuries of a five star hotel with the space and style of a designer apartment.

The imposing and traditional 1930s building with Edwardian frontage and Neo-Classical fine stone frontage has been restored and preserved by dynamic French duo Rare Architects. Retaining some original elements of the building such as sculptures commissioned from Henry Poole, enormous craftsmanship has gone into a sensitive restoration of wide marble halls, dramatic staircases and stunning public rooms which include a traditional council chamber and the original council meeting rooms.

Rare Architecture (directed by Michel da Costa Goncalves and Nathalie Rozencwajg) have also added a contemporary extension to Town Hall. Discreetly set back from the frontage, the addition forms a stunning new rear façade, marrying together three phases of construction.  Rare has also adopted a cutting-edge technique that covers the new outer wall with a metal ‘skin’, laser cut in a pattern inspired by the art-deco metal ornamentation in the building’s original and still remaining Council Chamber.

Offering a mix of studios, one bedroom suites, two bedroom suites and feature rooms, every apartment is unique.  With fully integrated kitchens complete with Corian work surfaces as well as bespoke, architect designed bathrooms every apartment has been individually designed offering original retro furniture mixed with contemporary Scandinavian inspired hand-crafted pieces.  The apartments are further enhanced with lighting by Viabizzuno whilst the original sash windows flood the rooms with natural light.

As a cultural hub of the East End and former backdrop to many films including Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Atonement, Town Hall strongly believes in supporting the local community.  As a result Town Hall enlisted the support of East End based not for profit Artsadmin to run an open commission scheme asking up and coming local artists to create works for the new hotel.  The judging panel, which included individuals such as Manick Govinda and Iwona Blazwick, Director of Whitechapel Gallery, selected and commissioned six artists to create installations for display throughout the hotel.  The installations will launch throughout 2010 and will represent a concentration of East End talent, widely recognised as London’s avant-garde artistic heartland.

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Offering its own entrance, both residents and Londoners can enjoy one of the East End’s most anticipated dining experiences with the launch of VIAJANTE, from celebrated chef Nuno Mendes. Mendes’ vast experience spans his culinary training in San Francisco to working with some of the world’s leading chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Rocco di Spirito and Jean-Georges Vongerichten in both New York and London. Mendes is a true pioneer in gastronomy, a traveller, or ‘viajante’, who has explored the globe in search of unique ingredients, innovative techniques and honest, quality produce from local farmers. Nuno’s tasting menus combine the simple with the extravagant, taking inspiration from Europe, Spain, Asia and Scandinavia, culminating in menus that manifest “the sum of my experiences until today”, according to Mendes.  The adjacent VIAJANTE bar continues to reflect Mendes’ philosophy offering clean and interesting cocktails as well as modern and unique bar food.

Town Hall’s lower ground floor will house the hotel’s pool and gym.  The pool area was designed in shades of white marble with touches of brass to recall the elegance and charm of a traditional spa. Natural light falls from the pool’s sky light and catches the reflective tiles which line the pool, turning the water a shimmering shade of green, blue and copper as the day progresses. The glass walled gym overlooks the pool and offers state-of-the-art equipment.  Currently only available at Town Hall, the latest audio visual programme allows gym enthusiasts to select a virtual run around many magnificent monuments and landscapes throughout the world.

Only fifteen minutes walk to London’s financial district and well-connected to the city and the West end by tube, train and road, Bethnal Green has recently emerged as a melting pot for artistic talent in London.  Famous today for its markets and trendy bars, as the heart of London’s artistic community, it has myriad stories to discover, from the Museum of Childhood to the speciality restaurants of Brick Lane.

A member of Design Hotels, Town Hall Hotel Apartments is set in an area of the East End that has long been typified by its authentic surrounds and diversity of restaurants and food, music, fashion, art and design culture. This pioneering new East End hot spot aims to catapult some exciting newcomers in the worlds of design, food and art into the spotlight.