Core Kensington

Studio Wolter Navarro, London, 2019


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Ståle Eriksen, Studio Wolter Navarro and Emma Lambe     Download Original

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A Pilates studio in London.

The Core Kensington project is one of those projects in which an architect truly enjoys being an architect. Fully trusting clients Carlo and Egil left in our hands the huge task of guiding them through to the next step in their business, moving to their own brand-new studio. Analysing their unique clientele and the high quality service and very individualised classes that they offer, we established that the design for the space ought to be a key part of the Pilates reformer sessions. Here, design and exercise go hand by hand, making the workout a truly unique experience.

We aimed to achieve a high quality, inspiring calm and bright space that would allow the customers to focus, since Pilates is a mind-body exercise that requires deep concentration. The biggest challenge was to fit a relatively large brief into a very small unit, which required a focused approach to material selection and space planning. The main materials were reduced to only terrazzo and timber. 

Most of the large storage requirements are concealed, cleaning the space of visual clutter. It was important for us to work with wood in a very architectural and controlled manner, 'contrology' plays a key role in Pilates. We aimed to create handmade joinery pieces of such precision that they almost appear to be machine made and that are very graphic, directing all the attention to the characterful and very expressive natural grain.

The owners of Core Kensington are Mexican and Norwegian and we thought it would be interesting to let that have a certain influence in the design. We came up with a modern twist of the traditional decorative terracotta ‘celosía’ for the central partition, which is the main feature of the studio, and which we built with Douglas fir, a very Scandinavian timber.

The bright, calm and very natural feel of the studio embodies Joseph Pilates’ philosophy of wellness and fitness. Every detail has been carefully and lovingly designed bespoke for the space. Close collaboration with the manufacturers and suppliers and deep research into the behaviour and possibilities of the different materials have been key to the success of each of the elements and of the project as a whole. We have also worked with Core Kensington to strategically define and establish their brand identity, and have designed their new logo. The result has been so successful that Core Kensington are already looking for a new space to open a second studio.


  • Begun: Jan 2018
  • Completed: Apr 2019
  • Floor area: 76m2
  • Sector: Sports and leisure
  • Total cost: £140,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Oct 2017
  • Procurement: RIBA Concise Building Contract 2014
  • CO2 Emissions: 927kg/m2/year
  • Address: Bridgeman House, 375 Kensington High St, London, W14 8AZ, United Kingdom