Grand designs

As we prepare for the launch of our luxury townhouses, we caught up with long-time resident and gallery owner Sokari Higgwe, who has purchased one of them, about his hopes and aspirations for his new home

London City Island has come a long way since building began in 2015; emerging from a disused space to a thriving waterside community. The arrival of the townhouses this winter is the cherry on the cake, and epitomises the lifestyle and aesthetic of the Island as a whole.

The seven townhouses are spread across multiple light-filled storeys and reflect the design of the neighbouring apartments and the Island. Encompassing three distinctive styles, but cohesive in design, they are stylish and vibrant with red bricks and spectacular Crittall steel windows that add a touch of industrial chic. The collection is built into a curve of the River Lea along the Island’s kilometre-long waterfront pathway, and their architecture draws inspiration from modern riverside cities, such as Manhattan and Chicago.

Inside, bespoke Crittall partitions allow the design to flow seamlessly from exterior to interior, and encourages residents to really open up the spaces and invite in the light. Community and socialising is a key theme throughout, with the townhouses either featuring a spacious balcony overlooking the river or roof terraces for alfresco dining and entertaining.

It’s little surprise that these architecturally spectacular houses attracted the keen eye of Sokari Higgwe, a self-trained photographer and owner of the local London Lighthouse Gallery & Studio. With a passion for design and detail, Higgwe was immediately smitten with the townhouses, just as he was when he saw the plans for his apartment on the Island nearly 6 years ago. With the need for more space but not wanting to leave the community that he has become such a key part of, Higgwe found that the townhouses ticked all the right boxes, and more.

How long have you lived at London City Island and what made you decide to move here in the first place?
I have lived at London City Island for nearly five and a half years. One of the reasons for moving here was the uniqueness of the development. As an architectural photographer I was initially attracted to the development because of the architecture, the design and colours of the building, I love the use of bricks, which has a simplicity to it and yet is very bold. However, when I visited the show apartments, I was blown away even more by the interior and design specification. I loved the high ceilings and large windows, they bring in so much light into the apartments.

Now you will soon move to one of the brand-new townhouses on the Island. Why did you decide to move?
The decision to move is purely based on the need for more space. I was single when I initially bought my 3-bedroom apartment on the Island, but I now live with my partner, and we need more space. We looked at other apartments and developments but I didn’t want to move from the Island. So, when the townhouses were released and I saw them, it was an easy decision to make. It provided us with all the space and storage we were looking for. I love the idea of having different spaces on different levels.•-LCI_website_October_Townhouse_Article2-1280x1679.jpg

Sokari Higgwe shares his thoughts on his new London City Island townhouse•-LCI_website_October_Townhouse_Article3-1920x1220.jpg

The townhouses feature parquet floors and spectacular Crittall glass walls on every floor

What do you like about their interior design?
That was one of the main deciding factors for us. There is something very traditional but very modern about the design. The choice of materials like the [Carrara] marble tiles in the bathrooms, the parquet floor, the Crittall glass walls on every floor, and the black and white checkerboard floor tiles. It’s a perfect twist to traditional townhouse living. It is a very good transition for me, having lived in an apartment most of my adult life. I have always wanted to have a stand-alone bath in the bedroom, and I can’t wait to have a soak. I do not have any plans to change the interior, I am happy with the choice of materials, fittings and finishes, I think the next step is for me to complement the interior with the right furniture.

As a creative person, do you have quite specific taste when it comes to interior design?
Yes, I do have a specific taste, but it’s very broad when it comes to interior design. I like to mix things up when I choose pieces for my space. The idea is to make the space my own by picking items that I love but most importantly only items that work within the space. I wouldn’t buy an item just because I love It. It must also work within the space that it is intended for.•-LCI_website_October_Townhouse_Article4-1280x1679.jpg

A modern twist on townhouse living

As an architectural photographer I was initially attracted to the development because of the architecture – the design and colours of the building – I love the use of bricks, which has a simplicity to it and yet is very bold

Sokari Higgwe

Who are some of your favourite designers and artists?
We could go on forever if I were to list all my favourite designers or artists. I tend to go for things that have good craftsmanship behind them. For me, it’s more about the design itself than about the person behind the design. I am a very visual person, so my first attraction for any object or piece is the look and feel before I find out about the designer.

Do you enjoy having your work and home within such proximity?
I think it’s the best thing that happened to my life, and I consider myself very lucky to live in a home that I love, to work in a space I love, and both in an area I love that also gives me inspiration for my work.

London City Island exemplifies the 15-minute city philosophy. Was this something important to you when looking for a home?
Definitely so; the fact that I can be at the gym in the morning before going to work and enjoy a lovely dinner at the restaurant downstairs without heading out of the Island is such a blessing.•-LCI_website_October_Townhouse_Article5-1280x1679.jpg

The townhouse bedroom, flooded with light

How would you describe the community spirit of London City Island?

It’s like no place I have ever lived. The one thing about living in City Island is the sense of ownership that exists among the ‘Islanders’. The residents have taken ownership of the Island and feel they are part of a whole, rather than just individuals. We have all made lifelong friendships from living here. I cannot walk from my apartment to the station without stopping to chat with at least 3 or 4 people along the way. I also spend a good deal of my time in the galley waving at people that walk past.

What are your hopes for the near future?

The past year has been very challenging, opening my new business during lockdown, and facing the challenges that came with the pandemic. The future for me is looking forward to moving into our new home and to make the most of life by cherishing every moment with my loved ones and doing the things that make me happy.

At the gallery, we have a new exhibition starting in November showing works of creatives on the Island. It will be another opportunity for the Island community to come together under one roof and get to meet other creatives. So watch this space.•-LCI_website_October_Townhouse_Article6-1280x1679.jpg

The bedroom's standalone bath is one of the things Sokari is most looking forward to•-LCI_website_October_Townhouse_Article7.jpg

Please click here for more information on the London City Island Townhouses.

Discover more about the London Lighthouse Gallery & Studio by visiting


Words: Gemma Billington