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Architect Features Cat Faces on Apartments in Catford

Friday, September 24, 2021

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London-based Tsuruta Architects reports that its recently completed housing project in the south London neighborhood of Catford features thousands of cat faces.

Dubbed “The Queen of Catford,” the five quirky apartments sit just off the main road of the area’s Catford Center shopping mall. While the black-and-white feline statue that sits above the mall’s entrance isn’t included in the firm’s count, reports indicate that it’s been there since its opening in 1974.

“It’s become an icon for people,” commented Taro Tsuruta, the architect responsible for the new cat-filled apartment building in the neighborhood. According to Fast Company, the feline statue is what inspired much of his design choices for The Queen of Catford.

Feline-Featured Apartments

Including an estimated 27,620 cat faces, both inside and outside of the collection of apartments, the designs range from laser-cut perforations, door handles and embossed details. Many of the faces are also located in the building’s external staircase, which lends access to all five apartments.

The designs were created for the Catford Regeneration Partnership, a subsidiary of Lewisham Council with the aim of revitalizing the Catford Shopping Center and its surroundings.

“The brief was to be a catalyst for the regeneration of the area,” said Tsuruta. “It was quite a naive brief and I took it seriously.”

Designing a simple motif of a cat’s head, complete with pointed ears, Tsuruta reported that he used this decorative detail throughout all the residential structures.

In addition to the puny feline touch as a tribute to the neighborhood, the properties also feature references to two fictional characters, Katherine Ford and Raven Bjorn, who have been intertwined with local history over the years.

As the story goes, Ford was named after Catford and Bjorn after the local River Ravensbourne. The two started their careers in Catford’s theater scene and were later rumored to have become stars in the industry.

According to reports, snippets of the story can be found on blue plaques—which claim to be issued by the Heritage of Catwanda—as well as in kitchen cabinet etchings. Cat faces can also be found in the cupboards, walls and also in forms of coat hooks.

“This may be a small project, but it captures some big ideas that are linked to both Catford's regeneration and also the history of the area,” said Tsuruta. “We tell stories to record impressions of a place and architecture can be a part of this as well.”

Tsuruta adds that all the apartments were designed using digital fabrication, which allowed him to make the most of the spaces and also offered additional efficiency and cost savings. Additional apartment design choices include CNC-cut plywood cabinets, closets, furniture, lighting fixtures and staircases. Tsuruta also used striped wall paneling.

Since competition, the apartments have reportedly gone up for rent. The money collected intends to be used to further develop Catford. The project has also recently been shortlisted for the New London Architecture Award 2021 under the dwelling category.

“Hopefully, people will be attracted to the whimsical spirit of this project and see how it represents a love of the area,” Tsuruta added



Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Commerial/Architectural; Decorative Finishes; Design; EU; Europe; Maintenance + Renovation; Projects - Commercial; Tsuruta Architects

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