By collapsing the roles of architect, developer and interior designer, they make spaces with an unparalleled intimacy and a highly refined sense of place….. The duo achieve something that most never do: an inimitable look that only the imperfections of time and the idiosyncrasy of the human touch can produce.

New York Times / T magazine / Megane O’Grady

Creating some of the more compellingly decorated private homes in London, answering a creeping urban homogeneity with living spaces that feel as soulful as they do sophisticated

New York Times / T magazine / Megane O’Grady

Zoe Chan Eayrs and Merlin Eayrs inhabit spaces as they renovate them, infusing each room with history and humanity

New York Times / T magazine / Megane O’Grady

A sense of high-level craftsmanship prevails

New York Times / T magazine / Megane O’Grady

With each new project, the pair reinvent their aesthetic, freshly inspired by a new neighborhood, a style of architecture or somewhere they’ve recently travelled.

New York Times / T magazine / Megane O’Grady

With a non-negligible amount of up-front risk — the client is involved only at the end, when they purchase the home — comes a great deal of reward in the form of total creative freedom.

New York Times / T magazine / Megane O’Grady

Young architectural duo Chan and Eayrs’ aesthetic emphasises an overall feeling of warmth, calm and paired back luxe.

British Vogue / Secret Address Book / Naomi Smart

Chan and Eayrs’ spaces are paean to their skill and exquisite taste

The Times / Times Luxx magazine / Carolyn Asome

The pair are champions of craft and the natural shonkiness of the human touch

The Times / Times Luxx magazine / Carolyn Asome

With no client, Chan and Eayrs have complete creative freedom.

The World of Interiors / Kate Jacobs

The way the owners feel their space is typical of how Zoe and Merlin operate.

The Times / Times Luxx magazine / Carolyn Asome

Unlike other architects, this husband and wife team search the world to handpick their sites and are involved in every aspect of their projects

The Times / Times Luxx magazine / Carolyn Asome

They (Chan and Eayrs) are like artists reimagining the city

The Telegraph / Caroline McGhee

Zoe and Merlin only work on one project at a time…evocative details throughout their projects are testament to their focussed approach

Dwell/ Michele Koh Morollo

 

New Cross Lofts

A new build replacing a derelict car workshop on a sloping corner site facing Deptford Park and set behind a row of Victorian terraces. Its grey monolithic massing responds to the tough urban context. Inside, however, is a different story: a calming palette of tactile materials and textural layers establishes a grounding quality; a sensory respite from the city outside.

Home Highlights

New build brick loft building over 3 floors, with concrete and raw plaster interiors. 2 x 3-bed loft apartments / 2 x work studios

Location

New Cross, London

Completion

2015

Area

900 ft2 / 84 m2

Availability

All Soldi

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How did New Cross Lofts come to be?

We were attracted to New Cross because of its creative energy. Goldsmiths has long made the area synonymous with students and artists, and, like Dalston, those communities bring a real sense of creativity.

At the time, Peckham, New Cross and Deptford were still emerging as places to be, so there was a rawness to the area.

What was the site like?

Like the surrounding area, its appeal was that it was quite gritty. It was a two-storey brick shell of a building with ceilings that had caved in due to a fire.

We knew that we would essentially have to propose a new building, rather than trying to work around what was already there.

The thing that we were really drawn to was the fact that the site overlooked the nearby park. Also, because it occupied a corner plot, the space was flooded with light.

How did your design respond to the site?

Unlike our previous project, The Herringbone House, where the design was about getting as much light into the space as possible, this was about controlling the light. When you have a building that is entirely outward-facing, the challenge is to create a sense of airiness and openness, while also making the space feel private.

So it was about, on the one hand, defending the building from its surroundings a little bit, and, on the other, about opening it up to light and the views. We used fluted glazing for the lower parts of the windows to bring light in while also ensuring people outside couldn’t look in from the street.

Inside, there is a cast concrete staircase in the communal area, which is south-facing. We wanted to make the most of the position, but also create a sort of sheltered feel. As such, the staircase’s sculptural form has a severity to it, but it also offers a pleasing contrast to the soft pink polished plaster walls.

Externally, we used ornamental brickwork to draw attention to the building from the street. We wanted to embrace and celebrate the fact that the building appears quite monolithic from its visible position, just off the high street.

Was there a sense of creating an oasis?

Yes, all of our projects carry through a sense of home being about safety, and of removal from the outside; its the contrast of the external and the internal that we love.

The interior palette softens as you move up through the building. The loft spaces are light and open, with generous windows opening onto the park.

A calming balance of pink shades and raw plasterwork was inspired by our travels to Morocco, which is also where we got married. Marrakesh is referred to as the ‘Red City’ because it has this beautiful pinky earth hue, and for the use of tadelakt plaster in vernacular architecture. We applied it to the space, but blended it in with off-whites and textured linens.

How was working together for the first time?

In the beginning, we tried to do everything together. As designers, we both have quite strong ideas and, at the time, we were eager young architects who wanted to prove ourselves.

Over time we learned that Zoe is good at hashing out an original idea and concept; she’s the one in her own little world, constantly dreaming.

Merlin takes that seedling idea, improves it and turns it into a reality. He makes the idea work, connects it and collaborates with neighbours, planners and craftspeople on getting it off the ground.

What bonds us is that we have very similar tastes and a crossover in terms of our vision. Out of that comes a mutual trust in each other that we will do our roles well.

How do you reminisce about this project?

We get better at what we do with each project, because of practice. When we look back we see an organic growth from one project to the next.

New Cross Lofts was about our progression as architects, but its enduring legacy is that it made us see each home we make like creating an artwork. As with any artists, we continue to build and develop our craft, enriching each new work with the lessons learned before.

Team: Zoe Chan Eayrs / Merlin Eayrs
Photography: Michael Sinclair
Film: Toby Lewis Thomas

 
 

Tradition and history meet contemporary detailing at a Huguenot Townhouse in Spitalfields—The Weavers House