When it comes to finding real estate in the city, Londoners are experts at making do with little space - but architect Laura Clark has taken renovation to a completely new level by transforming a long-abandoned public restroom into a beautiful private home. The lavatory underneath the Crystal Palace Parade measures only 600 square feet, but its renovation proved to be a massive undertaking. Persevering through confusion over who held the rights to the property and an incredible amount of physical effort, Clark was able to turn a lavatory into a luxury apartment.
Clark first discovered the lavatories back in 2005. Having just completed a degree at the Glasgow School of Art, the young architect was looking for a unique challenge. “For me that’s about saving sites with an interesting history, but which have been abandoned and forgotten.” she told the Telegraph.
The bathroom was built at the nexus of three council boundaries, so to build her dream home Clark had to determine who was responsible for the real estate. Finding that it was not available to be developed for commercial use, she decided to transform the space into a one-room apartment. After spending £3,000 and attending countless meetings to placate the Lambeth Council’s regeneration department, the property’s ownership was thrown into question and it was unclear as to whether she could build. Finally, the property was officially put up for sale, and Clark was able to purchase the lavatories in 2011 and begin her work.
The restrooms were built in 1929 and had last seen activity in the 1980s. Clark’s practice, Lamp Architects, set to turn the mouldering toilets into a light-filled, cozy home for only £65,000. She worked alongside laborers, pitching in with much of the construction and even convincing her martial-arts training fellows to aid with the renovation. What emerged from the subterranean, dungeon-like space is a contemporary home boasting streamlined shelving, a modern kitchen, and a gold-leafed bathroom. Tiles for the splashback in the kitchen were reclaimed from the original structure, as was a mirror placed in the living room. Not without a sense of humor, Clark displays a small public health poster warning of the dangers of venereal diseases in the kitchen.