We should all be developers: Roger Zogolovitch on the work of Solidspace

Book Cover 1
Shouldn't we all be developers? by Roger Zogolovitch explores how Solidspace has carved a name for itself, transforming unpromising areas into award-winning properties
(Image credit: Roger Zogolovitch)

Modern London is being shaped by a coterie of colossal development companies, all of whom have access to vast sites, great portfolios of architectural talent and an uncanny knack for translating bricks and mortar into instant, epic profit. But what about the rest of us? In his new book, the developer Roger Zogolovitch implores us all to take a fresh look at the art of keeping it small.

Zogolovitch's company, Solidspace, has carved a name for itself by working with awkward, compact sites and for an intense, design-driven focus, from their first major project with dRMM through to recent collaborations with Groves Natcheva, MW Architects and Stephen Taylor. Zogolovitch's theory is that the small scale developer – be they first time buyers, housing collectives, ambitious architects or simply far-sighted fans of contemporary design – are best placed to make the city a liveable, human place.

Away from the mega-sites that re-cast whole districts in a shiny new way, Solidspace and its ilk are digging out the 'territory of the forgotten', using innovative design to transform the unpromising into the award-winning and, hopefully, making the whole thing pay its own way. This small-is-beautiful approach to finding sites, choosing talent and making buildings has yielded some remarkable results. If you're hankering after a new career, this could be a great place to start.

Centaur Before-Roger Zogolovitch book

From the book: Case study 1: Centaur Street, forgotten land of the railway viaduct in Waterloo, 2000. Solidspace appointed dRMM architects for the development

(Image credit: Roger Zogolovitch)

Centaaur Street

Centaur Street was completed in 2003, a development of three zones including four-metre wide bathrooms, balconies and winter gardens

(Image credit: Roger Zogolovitch)

Centaur Interior

The interior of the Centaur Street development, which includes internal stairs linking levels

(Image credit: Roger Zogolovitch)

SHR Before Roger Zogolovitch book case study-2

Case study 2: Stapleton Hall Road when it was purchased in 2006. The development, by architect Stephen Taylor, began in 2012

(Image credit: Stephen Taylor)

Stapleton Hall Road

Stapleton Hall Road after its transformation in 2014: a butterfly plan 'eat live work' arrangement

(Image credit: Stephen Taylor)

Stapleton Hall Road interior

Stapleton Hall Road interior – the build is arranged over seven half levels, rising around the stair

(Image credit: Stephen Taylor)

Zog Before Roger Zogolovitch on the work of Solidspace

Case study 3: Solidspace purchased this space on Donaldson Road in 2004. The area was originally was used for parking and housed an electricity sub-station

(Image credit: Stephen Taylor)

Zog House After

The Groves Natcheva practice was appointed to build a detached family home – the Zog House – pictured here

(Image credit: Stephen Taylor)

Zog House

Zog House has a triple height void, affording views of the upper levels of the house and the sky

(Image credit: Stephen Taylor)

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.