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
company profile
Company profile: Matrix Fitness
Unrelenting drive to be the best at what we do underpins activity throughout our vertically integrated business life cycle.
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
The design of the new HQ for the International Olympic Committee was inspired by the movement of athletes
Kim Herforth Nielsen founded 3XN in 1986 with Lars Frank Nielsen and Hans Peter Svendler Nielsen
"I always wanted to do more than just designing buildings"

How Danish firm 3XN is harnessing the power of architecture to shape human behaviour

Shangri-La brand Hotel Jen looks over Beijing’s skyline
"Millennials are investing more in experiences versus physical things"

How millennial travellers are transforming hotel design

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
Mori’s design for the airy visitor centre of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, New York
Born in Kobe, Japan and later growing up in New York, Mori has become a trailblazer for women in architecture around the world
"Every decision you make, you should think seven generations ahead"

From a compressed earth cultural centre in Senegal to the sleek Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Mori’s work shares a clarity of purpose

features
"Now we’re talking about pedestrians as the most important members of the street community"

The new US neighbourhood designed to improve the health of its residents

The award-winning Salt Shed is an iconic structure in New York, designed to elevate a utilitarian building into a striking landmark
Claire Weisz
"I prefer to be labelled a feminist architect than a female architect. I’d love to work with more women"

The WXY co-founder and urbanist with a passion for improving our public spaces

Wellness: Living well
"The entire way of living is changing in Asia, and the need for communities is on the rise"

The new wellness communities changing the face of residential design in Asia

cladkit product news
Tredje Natur launches Climate Tile to bring green spaces to urban settings
Tredje Natur has installed the pilot system of its Climate Tile system in the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen
Lauren Heath-Jones
Danish company Tredje Natur (Third Nature) has recently installed the pilot system of its innovative street paving system in the ...
EAS PREVIEW: Bright Buildings to exhibit BrightOpen designs
Bright Buildings will be showcasing its range of BrightOpen buildings
At this year’s Euro Attractions Show (EAS), design and architecture firm Bright Buildings will be exhibiting its range of BrightOpen ...
Artemide excites with latest lighting collection
Designer Alejandro Aravena created O to 'reconcile the needs of the natural and the urban environment'
Lauren Heath-Jones
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Herzog and de Meuron, Neri & Hu, MAD Architects and Elemental, the firm of Pritzker winner ...
cladkit product news
Aotta launches sound panels made from hemp husks
The panels are designed to maintain 'healthy spaces' and consist of Hemp husks fashioned into a natural porous membrane that absorbs sound
Lauren Heath-Jones
Russian design studio Aotta has developed a range of eco-friendly, sound-absorbing panels made from the waste products of hemp seeds. ...
John Pawson reimagines oil lantern for Wästberg
The Holocene No. 4 reflects Pawson's pared-back style and neutral palette
Lauren Heath-Jones
Swedish lighting company Wästberg has expanded its Holocene collection, with a new addition, Holocene No. 4, designed by acclaimed architect ...
Designworks launches new glow-in-the-dark tile collection
The tiles contain light-absorbing luminous pigments so they glow-in-the-dark
Lauren Heath-Jones
High-end tile supplier Designworks has created a range of illuminous mosaic tiles for commercial use. Designed to bring light into ...
cladkit product news
Dornbracht launches 'next generation' experience shower
Rainmoon is an innovative sensory shower experience designed for use in the home
Dornbracht is taking experience showers to the next level with its multi-sensory Rainmoon concept. “Rainmoon is a culmination of bliss ...
Bartok Design installs 'transformative' soaking tubs in SpaFusion at Pallazzo Varignana
Bartok Design creates traditional Japanese soaking tubs
Lauren Heath-Jones
Bartok Design, a Japan-based supplier of Ofuro (Japanese bathtubs), has completed a major installation at the newly opened SpaFusion at ...
Zaha Hadid Design partners with Royal Thai to create carpet collection celebrating Zaha Hadid's legacy
The carpets capture Hadid's notable use of layering and interweaving as well as her use of light and shadow
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with carpet manufacturer Royal Thai to create a new carpet collection inspired by the work ...