As West London natives whose father worked as a builder, architects Tom and James Teatum have watched dramatic shifts occur in their hometown. London grew into a expensive, expansive metropolis, where space is increasingly at a premium. More people moved into the city center for work, and found themselves bouncing between apartments.
The Teatums, who have been working together for the last 15 years, believe a better approach to residential architecture—focused on adaptive reuse, more artful design, and less isolating rooms—can lead to better housing because it’s grounded in the reality of how people actually live.
“Look at how space is used, and more importantly, how it’s used everyday,” he says. “There’s a finite amount of land, and we need to reuse what we’ve got. There’s a move toward higher buildings. We’re trying to reprogram them.”
When they started their new studio, Noiascape, last year, the brothers decided to act on some of their ideas about shaping community and become both designers and developers. They saw an opportunity to create spaces more attuned to these new lifestyles and daily routines—a more social building filled with shared space. It’s more like a “city in a building” that avoids the monoculture of totally separate home and office spaces.
Many architects and companies profess similar beliefs; this is, after all, the age of coliving, with companies such as Common and WeLive vying to fashion elevated communal living experience for millennials.
Noiascape has similar aims, and a similar audience in mind, seeking to build a network of spaces that form the “infrastructure for urban renting.” That also translates to well-designed, relatively affordable small spaces. But to Teatum, the difference is vertical integration. Noiascape controls the entire process, from development to management, and the brothers believe calm, considered design can be a differentiator.
Creating a city in a building
Teatum described the coliving projects—the main focus for Noiascape, based on its manifesto—as a reaction to changes impacting London and other big cities. By 2025, the city is expected to have 3.5 million renters, according to the Greater London Authority.
Since starting the practice last year, the Teatums have amassed a portfolio of seven rental properties, with plans to expand. The ability to control to the budget on renovations and new developments offers more creative control, says Teatum, from designing and building to managing and programming for the finished project.
Vertical integration has made Noiascape focus on materials and “sculpting space.” Within their simple, angular interiors, that means designing living spaces and common areas with plenty of built-ins, hooks, and nooks and crannies for small objects, to maximize square-footage.
Design flourishes both highlight and celebrate rituals and routines; for instance, a bed in one room features a curtain that recalls four-poster beds while offering a separation between work and rest. The idea is to be able to enter an apartment with a small bag and quickly feel at home.
A finished Noiascape project, the Garden House, showcases their design philosophy. The materials and floor plan—cast concrete and birch joinery, open vertical layouts that let in light—add up to an interior landscape that emphasizes social interaction, and feels more bespoke than other coliving arrangements. Placing bedrooms on the ground floor and putting living and workspace above “make working from home a pleasure.”
“It’s not an issue of something being small, it’s about how well-considered places are,” Teatum says.
The High Street House
The forthcoming High Street House, which broke ground in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood this spring, best illustrates Noiascape’s evolving principles. One of a handful of projects in the Noiascape pipeline, including a proposed 125-unit building called the Red House, this 15-unit building set in the middle of a major commercial street in West London, contains a series of studios and shared spaces. Rooms, which measure 22 to 33 square meters (236 to 365 square feet), run for a range of rents, to encourage a more diverse demographic. Some spaces feature discounts for students due to partnerships with local educational organizations.
A development highlight, the street level storefront and gallery, emphasizes increased interaction with the neighborhood. The brothers plan to feature a rotating series of programming, as they did with a previous project called Kolider, which featured rotating events such as a pop-up reggae record shop and fashion exhibits.
Other coliving companies offer the same type of sales pitch, selling not just a home but an instant community. Noiascape’s promise also includes inhabiting something that’s more handmade and personal.
“Development in London is viewed as something that takes and doesn’t give back,” Teatum says. “We’re a business, and we want to make sense as a business, but there’s a huge potential for development to give back to cities.”