20 Jul Top 5 UK Serviced Apartment Buildings with the most Intriguing History
One of the most fascinating things about the UK, and indeed any country with a long history, is that buildings tend to have many incarnations, being continuously repurposed and revamped. In our latest article, we explore the history behind some of our most iconic buildings.
In the UK it’s not uncommon for old red light districts or slums to be reborn as upmarket hippie chic areas, churches to become bars, cotton mills to reappear as apartments and posh pads to hide the skeletons of council housing underneath the paint. Give it a closer look and you will see marks where windows and doors used to be, spaces on the Tube map where closed stations still exist, rivers that appear in old maps but disappear in new ones, running like ghosts piped under the modern city. The urban landscape in Britain is anything but dull! Here are the secret agents who have disguised themselves under many guises over the years.
1. The Rotunda, Birmingham – the iconic landmark
Iconic for its round shape, The Rotunda in Birmingham was originally built as a state of the art office block for the post-war rebuild of the Bullring Shopping Centre. When it was completed in 1965, it received much criticism from the locals who weren’t particularly fond of the design. By 1974 the pub in its basement was one of the two sites bombed during the Birmingham pub bombings. And by 1980s, when the Bullring was due to be redeveloped, the building faced demolition. Fortunately, by then the locals had warmed up to it as an iconic Brummie landmark and strongly opposed its demolition, giving The Rotunda a new lifeline. After becoming a Grade II Listed Building in 2000, it was redeveloped and refurbished into apartments in 2004, when it became what it is today.
Staying Cool at Rotunda Apartments
150 New Street,
2. The Salvation Army Citadel, Aberdeen – the battleground
Hansen Residence is located inside The Salvation Army Citadel in Aberdeen, which was built on the old grounds of Aberdeen Castle. Dating back to medieval times, Aberdeen Castle was of pivotal importance during the Wars of Scottish Independence in the late 1200s. By 1308, King Robert the Bruce had massacred the English army it once housed and burned down the castle and its fortifications. Five centuries later, The Salvation Army Citadel was built on its grounds, in an area of Aberdeen now known as Castlegate. In the early 80s, parts of the building were sold for redevelopment and became the serviced apartments we know today. Another curious fact about this building is that it was designed by William Smith, the same architect that designed Her Majesty’s residence – Balmoral Castle. From a castle to battlefield to apartments with royal heritage, Hansen Residence’s history could not be more dramatic or Scottish!
3. Burne Jones House, Birmingham – the artist’s birthplace
Burne Jones House is located in Bennetts Hill and named after Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones, who was born here in 1833 and was responsible for the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass windows. Some of his work still adorns several prominent churches and cathedrals around the UK. Originally farmlands belonging to a single family, Bennetts Hill itself was developed into housing during the 19th century, later becoming office space – including the home of Scottish Widows Insurers, and eventually being refurbished and redeveloped into apartments in 2001. Most recently, Burne Jones House has had its roof garden refurbished and guests staying in the apartments can now enjoy the rooftop views from the art-deco building.
City Quarters at Burne Jones House
11/12 Bennetts Hill
4. Fraser Suites, Edinburgh – the political & press Centre
The land where St Giles Street lies today was originally owned and developed by The Royal Bank, but Fraser Suites’ address became famous in the late 1800s for housing newspaper offices and press printing. Later the building became the home of Edinburgh and District Water Trust and eventually the City of Edinburgh Council. Today, you can still admire the stained glass windows created by pioneering Scottish town planner, Sir Patrick Geddes. Now luxury apartments owned by the same company behind Malmaison Hotel and Hotel Du Vin, Fraser Suites seems to have always been fit for luxury and limelight, despite its many incarnations.
Fraser Suites Edinburgh
12-26 St Giles Street
5. The Old Post Office, Leeds – the communication HQ
Now a Grade II Listed Building with striking architecture, Quebec Luxury Apartments was once an old cloth hall. In 1896 Sir Henry Tanner was commissioned with the task of designing a building that showcased the wealth and prosperity acquired by Leeds during the industrial revolution and the result was a Victorian building of stunning and grand display boasting a clock tower and decorative chimney extensions. The building was originally the main post office in Leeds and also housed the city’s telephone exchange, but in 2006 a £8 million refurbishment saw it turned into the luxury apartments it is today. You only need to take one look at it to see it always had the Victorian blessing.