Few buyers presented with the yawning shell of a 6,500sq ft, tin-roofed, late Victorian warehouse would describe it as ‘a great opportunity’ – let alone envision it as their central London des res.
But when Italian-born Maurizir Fabris, known as Moz, saw this property in 2015, he didn’t pause for a heartbeat.
‘It was perfect,’ he says. ‘I’m not an architect but I’ve designed or renovated houses in Ibiza and in Milan, Italy.
‘You might say I’m an entrepreneur with a passion for architecture and design. I enjoy transferring the use of space.’
Moz had planned to study architecture but was side-tracked and became ‘stuck’ working in the City. Remodelling buildings – and collecting classic cars – has, however, remained his lifetime passion.
On the guidance of architects he took the 6,500sq ft space, installed a private lift, and reshaped it into two unique penthouse apartments. He then sold the smaller 1,500sq ft flat, and sculpted the remaining 3,800sq ft space into an extraordinary two-storey, four-bedroom, four-bathroom loft-style home for himself.
Each bedroom has its own leafy terrace while the master bedroom boasts a separate steam room and two large dressing rooms. There are acres of glass, and uninterrupted views towards the Shard and City.
One of the bedrooms even has its own ‘secret’ stairwell from behind the steel mesh panels that line the entrance lobby. The undoubted star of the show, however, is the main living room, which Moz calls the piazza – all 2,000sq ft of it.
The space features 20ft-tall Cathedral-style ceilings (now lined with panels of industrial aluminium), polished concrete floors and a dramatic arched, steel-framed window, which stretches across an entire wall and frames views of the adjacent Vauxhall Park like a bucolic living canvas. ‘Sixty per cent of what sold me this property was that view,’ he says.
Everything about this apartment is bespoke, much of it from craftsmen in Italy. And Moz made some of the fittings himself, such as the industrial-style bulb-lighting that illuminates the entrance hall.
‘I didn’t want anything to look too precise,’ says Moz, who imported concrete bricks made to order from Estonia so he could choose their exact measurements. Each pane of glass has been individually double glazed in the Crittall doors, which lead from the vast open-plan living area to an outdoor terrace.
The kitchen has an 18ft-long island of black granite. Suspended above it is a fabulous chandelier of hundreds of pieces of broken crystal, connected by wires.
On the back-wall, cupboards and drawers are covered by wall panels of American oak, slatted, stained and burnt. A secret door leads to a second kitchen and pantry. A vast aluminium panel, acid treated, acts as a moveable artwork that be lowered or lifted.
‘I brought a lot of the furniture from my storage unit in Milan,’ Moz explains. ‘But it wasn’t till it arrived here that I realised how most of it, even the large pieces, are just swallowed up by this space.’
The dining table, for example – an Italian industrial design piece – had to be enlarged. Things that might be monstrous elsewhere, look perfectly sized in this space, such as the two old ship lights, which have been set against the brick wall as dramatic uplighters.
The unique finishes continue up the floating metal stairs to the bedrooms and bathrooms, where hand-crafted teak bath tubs have been made to measure by a boat builder in Estonia – a snip at just £2,000 each.
In the loos, and bathrooms, there are individually fired and hand-painted tiles from Italy, while the bespoke fittings all echo industrial pipes.
But for Moz, the triumph isn’t only about what you can see but what is behind the scenes.
‘The house has two layers of acoustic protection, underfloor heating under the concrete floors and wider than usual cavities in the walls so that all pipes can be insulated,’ he says.
‘These things are standard in high-spec properties in Europe but in the UK, I have often found developers cut corners. Behind the aesthetic things can be pretty shoddy.’
He is selling – through a new agency to the UK, Nest Seekers International – only because since buying the property he has married and had two children and the young family are seeking a different style of property.
It won’t be already built, of course. In fact it may be little more than a shell or frame lingering somewhere in the British countryside.
‘I just can’t bring myself to buy a home that’s already built and finished,’ Moz says. ‘I like to do it all myself.’
Embassy Works loft-style penthouse, £7.95m
Bespoke details throughout
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