French designer Philippe Starck and UK developer John Hitchcox start work on first residential conversion.
A new company set up by British developer John Hitchcox and French designer Philippe Starck has started work on its first residential scheme, in north-west London.

The scheme is a £25m conversion of a 1930s industrial building in Hall Road, Maida Vale. The firm, called Yoo, plans to develop 30 custom-designed, city-centre residential schemes around the world in the next five years. The value of the portfolio is estimated at £300m.

The next Yoo project is at Puerto Madero, a Docklands-style development in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Yoo is also in negotiation for sites in Paris, Sydney and Frankfurt.

Yoo submitted a planning application last month for a two-storey glazed extension to a five-storey building in Hall Road that was formerly a telephone exchange.

The scheme, designed by Starck in association with MMM Architects, aims to convert the building into 38 flats of 80-300 m2 each.

The extension will house four double-height penthouses with outdoor terraces.

Starck’s plans for the Hall Road apartments are different from the open-plan loft-style apartments with which Hitchcox made his name. The plans feature hidden staircases, rooms with screen walls and full-height doors.

Starck has selected 600 items of furniture and fittings, including many of his own designs, for a Yoo catalogue. In an innovative move, tenants of Yoo buildings will be able to select the interior of their apartments by choosing from four different ranges: nature, culture, minimal and classic.

The Yoo literature describes nature, for instance, as “strong but kind to body and soul” and made from “untreated materials, neutral, raw, rustic … ” whereas culture is “refined, elegant, intellectual” and made from maple/cherry, marble/limestone/ granite, chrome, glass”.

The Maida Vale flats will go on pre-sale in three weeks’ time. Paskin Kyraides Sands is executive architect on the scheme and the contractor is CJ O’Shea Group. Structural engineer is Alan Conisbee and Associates, services engineer is Atelier Ten and QS is Gardiner & Theobald.

Yoo has also announced four new partners in the company. They are public relations expert Matthew Freud, founder of Freud Communications, developer Douglas Lister, architect Mark Davison of MMM Architects and Freud Communications chief executive Nick Wiszowaty.

  • Manhattan Loft Corporation, the developer co-founded by Hitchcox, has submitted a planning application for its first office development, a project in London’s Southwark Street designed by architect CZWG.