Interview

Alice Lund

Since opening last April, The Ned has been crowned Europe’s best hotel. Soho House designer Alice Lund speaks to Magali Robathan about working on a unique project


Read on turning pages | Download PDF | sign up to CLAD

The story of the Ned began in 2012, when Soho House owner Nick Jones visited the Grade I listed former Midland Bank building in the City of London. “The property had been empty for nearly eight years but there was something about it – the details and scale of it – that just floored me,” says Jones.

The building, which was designed by architect Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens in 1924, still retained many of its original features, including a huge circular door leading into what was the main vault of the bank.

Determined to use the building to create a new club, Jones and Soho House’s chairman and investor Ron Burkle teamed up with Andrew Zobler, CEO of New York’s Sydell hotel Group.

Soho House designer Alice Lund co-led the project together with architecture practice EPR, transforming the Grade I listed building into a venue with 250 bedrooms, 10 restaurants and a member’s club.

Facilities include a rooftop space with a heated pool and outdoor terraces, a gym and Ned’s Club Spa, built around a 20m pool with Cowshed treatment rooms, a barbershop and beauty parlour.

Here designer Alice Lund talks us through the project:

What was your aim with this project?
We wanted The Ned to be a bit of a fantasy, a refuge from modern life.

What was your inspiration?
Our starting point for The Ned’s interiors was the glamour of a 1930s transatlantic ocean liner. We trawled the Midland Bank’s archives to find out what the building looked like in its heyday in the 1930s.

How would you sum up the design?
Faded 1930s-era glamour. We were inspired by the great ships of that time, including the Normandie, as well as by the Orient Express.

When did you first visit the building? Can you remember your initial reaction to it?
I first visited in June 2014, and was completely blown away by the scale and grandeur of the space. It felt very special to be able to roam around the building alone, as the property was vacant at the time, aside from the two lovely security guards who’d been working there since it was Midlands Bank. We spent hours pouring over the exquisite craftsmanship, materials and detailing on all the floors – it was incredibly inspiring.

What state was the building and its original features in?
We were lucky to get the building in good nick actually. HSBC had taken great care of it. The building’s Grade I-listed status provided challenges, particularly when it came to the ground floor. The bustle of the old bank’s reception area has been preserved – now, more than 850 people can eat on the ground floor.

Did you feel a sense of responsibility to the building?
Of course. We wanted the restoration to be as respectful as possible and to retain its character. We were always very mindful. We’ve taken lots of existing motifs from the building and re-worked them to create a cohesion between the old and new.

What was the most difficult part of the project?
When Edwin Lutyens designed the bank, he installed 92 green verdite marble columns and hundreds of walnut panelled counters for the bank tellers. The whole lot was protected by the listing, and we had to work out how to fit eight restaurants and bars into the space.

What was the most exciting part of the project?
Seeing the designs take shape was really exciting; spaces like Millie’s Bar with its rounded corners, and the infinity pool on the roof. We had been looking at the visuals for so long – to see them finally realised often felt wonderfully surreal! And finally, the opening night was dazzling – going from a building site to a fully occupied hotel felt incredible.

What’s your favourite part of the club?
My favourite part of the building is the original bank vault, which is housed in the belly of the building. It is dominated by the bank’s original stainless steel safety deposit boxes and its dramatic two-metre-wide door remains a key feature.

The vault once stored gold bullion deposits of £335m – around £15bn in today’s money. We balanced out the severe geometry of the space by creating a plush club area that is used by members day and night.

How do you want the interiors to make people feel?
We want people to feel transported back to that time but also to feel really comfortable there.
By being true to the era (without creating a pastiche) we’re set apart from other more contemporary hotel refurbishment projects. I hope our guests enjoy that.

What are you working on now?
I have just completed a new members area at The Ned – it looks great and I think makes great use of the spaces.

I’m also currently designing Soho House Hong Kong – a really fun challenge as the building is a modern skyscraper so a real departure from The Ned aesthetic!

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
latest jobs
company profile
Company profile: TVS Group
TVS has a broad portfolio of products, including high-performing shock pads, surfaces for sport, fitness and play, as well as highly specialised acoustic materials for noise and vibration control.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Interview: Steven Holl on Donald Trump, Zaha Hadid and not being obedient
Steven Holl is widely considered to be one of America’s most important and influential architects
" What sound is to music, light is to space "

The acclaimed architect speaks to CLAD about Donald Trump, Zaha Hadid and not being obedient

Work is due to start on the Hotel Valle Sagrado in Cuzco, Peru
Schreibeis Smith set up Vera Iconica Architecture in 2010
"Wellness is essentially an insurance policy to promote physical and mental long term health"

Raising the profile of wellness architecture

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The timber Pavilion of Reflections featured an open air cinema, seating and a public swimming pool
"You could have cultural events and museums that go from city to city. It’s a new way of thinking"

Rising sea levels and a shortage of land are leading to increased interest in floating buildings. We take a look at some fascinating projects

The Hyundai Card Music Library in Seoul was designed by Moongyu Choi and Gensler
Tom Lindblom
"Public spaces support the widest diversity of experiences"

At last concrete proof that design is the critical factor that turns good experiences into great ones says Gensler’s Tom Lindblom

Rosewood Sanya
Ed Ng
"Of all hospitality design, we feel that F&B is the most fun. You can be creative and it’s where you get all the limelight"

When ABConcept’s co-founder got The brief for the Four Seasons’ Mei Ume restaurant, he jumped straight on the plane to London. He tells us why

Archaeological relics will be stored and exhibited at the museum
Theoni Xanthi Partner XZA Architects
"The design concept is to create a museum that evokes a transition in time, in space, in memory"

The vision for the New Cyprus Musuem

The sports campus includes a range of education spaces and a library
"Whenever you’re looking at it, the elevation is running away from you, so it never looks quite as big as it really is "

FaulknerBrowns’ Dutch sports facility

cladkit product news
London's new pollution-eating living wall has air purifying power of 275 trees
CityTree is a living wall that reduces particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air by 30 per cent
Lauren Heath-Jones
The Crown Estate, a London-based commercial real estate company, has partnered with Westminster City Council and cleantech specialist Evergen Systems ...
Parkside opens flagship Chelsea showroom
The showroom is designed to inspire its clients
Lauren Heath-Jones
Parkside, a designer of contemporary porcelain and ceramic tiles, has opened its first showroom in the UK. Located in Chelsea ...
Bright Buildings to create UK's first 'open sky' swimming pool
Bright Buildings will create the retractable roof for the Open Sky pool at Ivybridge Leisure Centre
Lauren Heath-Jones
Leisure operator Fusion Lifestyle has announced that it will invest millions of pounds over the course of the next three ...
cladkit product news
Kvorning wins contest to design aquaculture exhibit at Norway's Coastal Museum
The exhibition explores the history of Norway's fish-farming industry dating back to 1970
Lauren Heath-Jones
Copenhagen-based design studio Kvorning Design and Norwegian advertising agency Vindfang have won a competition, organised by Museums in Sør Trøndelag ...
Hotel Crescent Court opens new spa following multi-million-dollar renovation
Hotel Crescent Court has reopened its spa after a multi-million dollar refurbishment
Lauren Heath-Jones
Hotel Crescent Court, a luxury hotel in Dallas, Texas, has reopened its spa and fitness centre after completing a multi-million-dollar ...
Empex Watertoys partners with Singapore architecture firm on new splash park
Buds is a new splash park that caters to children aged 12 and under
Lauren Heath-Jones
Empex Watertoys has partnered with Singapore landscape architecture firm Playpoint Singapore Pte to create Buds, an exciting new splash park ...
cladkit product news
Ben van Berkel launches UNSense startup to boost health and wellbeing in built environments
Kim Megson
Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and his design firm UNStudio have launched a tech startup to “improve the health and ...
Dornbracht debuts Rainmoon wellness shower concept at  Salone del Mobile
Rainmoon is a multi-sensory wellness experience designed to revitalise and reinvigorate the user
Lauren Heath-Jones
Dornbracht, a German-based luxury bathroom specialist, has launched an innovative new shower experience, Rainmoon. Slated as the next generation of ...