Exeter-based award winning architectural practice, Hilton Barnfield – known for creating great design for everyday living – are the architects for the premium waterside Kennaway Apartments, offering contemporary luxury living and spectacular views of Exeter’s historic Quay. The Grade II listed site in a key conservation area, is close to The Custom House, a historical landmark built at the height of the local woollen cloth industry in 1680.
The 1.5m construction project comprising seven large apartments is due for completion by end of March, offering a vibrant lifestyle on the bustling Quayside in the heart of Exeter. Each apartment bespoke in design, has been constructed over two floors with private terraces, retaining many of their original features whilst incorporating high-spec modern day living. A mixed-use scheme, it comprises of two small retail units on the ground floor and recently opened Puerto Lounge while Samuel Jones Smokehouse is just next door.
There have been numerous constraints working with a listed building, proving a challenging conversion. Bringing natural light into the middle of the vast building was the biggest obstacle. Adaptive to challenges, however, the innovative architects have created a delightful winter garden in the centre of the building. The impressive entrance area with a pitched glazed roof brings natural light and ventilation into the properties from the centre of the building, as well as the perimeter. This communal area also provides a perfect social all-weather ‘outside’ space for the residents to enjoy the sunlight at the heart of the scheme; the apartment layouts have also been carefully planned to give kitchen/dining areas visual connections to the garden.
A delicate balance has been achieved between careful conservation of the existing building and contemporary design to breathe new life into the site. New windows are in keeping with the style of the originals; existing trusses and other features are retained, with some exposed brickwork revealed internally. The building incorporates a solid brick ground floor, reflecting the red brick in the original building. Above this, contemporary materials are used: vertical oak and Corten steel cladding with large areas of glazing.
The building has been insulated to improve its environmental performance in external walls, roof and floors, but original features helped to shape the design where their thermal or acoustic upgrades have not been required. The new extension on the quayside sits alongside the impressive original street elevation, which has been considerately designed to reflect and reference the old building using modern mediums.
Hilton Barnfield Architects have transformed a previously rundown corner of the quay, into an architectural gem. With riverside views, a wealth of shops, independent cafes, pubs and restaurants on the doorstep – it’s a foodie’s dream.