London Basement Conversions: Access to the Garden
In basement extensions with a garden lightwell, access to the garden is achieved both at basement level and at ground floor level. At ground floor level the garden is frequently accessed over a glass bridge or platform that spans the lightwell. From the basement lightwell a stair can be introduced that connects to the garden. This can vary in design from stone steps set alongside the garden wall to modern timber and glass constructions that scale the side of the lightwell and can connect with the glass bridge. Our basement extension in Fulham at Ellerby Street illustrates the stair connecting to the bridge and the simple and elegant detailing that can be achieved. Alongside the physical connection between interior and garden is the visual connection between the two. This can be a glimpse from a reception room located at the front of the house to large expanses of glass in sliding doors giving onto the garden from the kitchen/dining space.
London Basement Conversions: Other Extensions and Refurbishment
Our basement extensions in London are on the whole carried out alongside a variety of other work in order to reduce future disruption and maximise the available space. This can include a complete redesign and refurbishment of the ground floor over the basement with side and rear extensions. At higher level basement extension projects in London often have loft conversions and pod rooms added.
London Basement Conversions: Energy Efficient Design
At Shape Architecture we have experience of designing and building energy efficient buildings over the last fifteen years. This experience enables us to suggest a range of simple energy efficient measures from the planning and layout of the building to the use of natural light and the specification of low energy fittings.
London Basement Conversions: Interior Design
In our basement extension projects we often provide the interior design services. We also work with a range of interior designers and can recommend appropriate ones if required. Where we provide interior design services our role varies depending on the clients requirements. It can range from a ‘supportive’ one, where the client has strong ideas of how the interior should look like to one where we are providing a range of design options to discuss with the client. We are particularly experienced in designing bespoke furniture, ranging from free-standing and walk-in-wardrobes, to bathroom vanity units and library and desk designs for a study. Our drawing packages always have detailed elevations drawn of every wall to insure the accurate setting out of wall finishes such as tiling and various other fixtures and fittings.
London Basement Conversions: Garden Design
Shape Architecture is happy to provide concepts and detailed design for garden spaces. As with interior design we also work with a range of garden designers and can make recommendations accordingly. The relationship between the ground floor and the garden beyond is particularly important. A variety of our basement extensions and whole house refurbishment in London have dealt with this issue in a variety of ways. In a number of basement projects in Fulham we have located elegant stairs, both internal and external at the point at which the garden begins.
London Basement Conversions: Bathroom Design
Our experience of designing and specifying bathrooms both in basement extensions in London and many other projects is vast. We are able to draw on this experience to design well planned bathroom spaces that are simple, elegant and filled with light. As noted in various sections above we provide detailed setting out elevations of every wall in the bathroom. We also have many documents that we have put together detailing a wide variety of finishes, fixtures and fittings that we make available to our clients.
London Basement Conversions: Kitchen Design
Having completed many basement projects with whole house or additional upper floor refurbishment, we have designed many kitchens for our clients. In the first instance this will involve the designing of the location of the kitchen and its relationship with the spaces around it. We will develop this with our clients using 3D computer graphics. The process will also consider the layout of the various kitchen appliances. It is quite common at this point for a client to engage a kitchen designer or kitchen company to progress the detailed design of the kitchen. We will continue to liaise with the kitchen specialist as required.
London Basement Conversions: Utility Room Design
Utility Rooms to basement conversions in London tend to be located at a mid point in the basement extension, off a short internal corridor and easily accessible from the stair into the basement. As with the design of bathrooms, we have a great deal of experience in designing simple and efficient utility rooms and can provide our clients with many sample layouts.
London Basement Conversions: Technical Design of Basements
The technical design of a basement conversion is particularly important given the many technical issues involved in this type of building project. The structural design and design of any temporary structure is very important, and it is vital to have a structural engineer who is experienced in this type of project. Equally important is the relationship between architect and structural engineer in ensuring that the building structure and building fabric are well co-ordinated prior to a start on site. At Shape Architecture through the large number of London basement extensions that we undertake, we enjoy good and well established relations with a number of structural engineers.
Keeping water out of a basement extension is equally important. We have encountered numerous different situations in this regard ranging from single storey basements that sit below the water table and double basements that sit considerably below the water table to typical single storey basements sitting above the water table as well as those that have water courses running through them. In all these instances there are well established structural and fabric design approaches to deal with the issue and an experienced design team will be able to design the basement accordingly and draw on their experience to talk the client through the process.
The issue of thermal compliance in basement extensions will concern the insulation of the building envelope to include insulating the basement floor. Equally important is the specification of the glazed elements that meet or exceed the requirements of the building regulations. The acoustic performance of the basement very often concerns the acoustic separation of the basement from the floor above. There are very many acoustic insulation products that can be put within the basement ceiling void or else within the floor make-up itself to address the issue of structural borne sound, which might be from someone walking overhead. Service pipes can be lagged in acoustic wrap and holes and gaps sealed with acoustic sealant or spray foam. Many issues relating to noise though can be addressed at the design stage in respect of the location of various types of spaces.
A further technical issue of much importance is the design of the strategy for fire escape. Many basement extensions and the floor above are designed as very open spaces. Doors and dividing walls are removed to provide a sense of space, more light and a better physical and visual connection between spaces. This approach does raise issues in respect of fire escape. A traditional layout of a home has a hallway with a stair in it and doors off it opening onto a variety of rooms and this layout is repeated on every floor. By this method a fire protected route is created. If these spaces are opened up and the fire rated divisions removed then a sprinkler system should be considered. At Shape Architecture we work with a number of sprinkler companies and have installed many sprinkler systems in our basement extension projects. As an alternative to sprinkler systems a mist suppression system can also be considered. Water pressure into the home has to be addressed and this may mean the upgrade of the water supply pipe into the property or the installation of a dedicated supply tank.