Tip One: Light and Space in Basement Design
The use of light throughout a project and in particular in basement design is of vital importance. A well lit basement extension will always exceed expectations and help create a sense of space. Natural light should be brought into the basement from a variety of sources and in a variety of locations. It should also afford views of the sky and exterior spaces wherever possible.
Basement Light wells
The lightwell is the most common method to provide light into a basement extension. It is efficient in that it also provides a route for natural ventilation, an amenity space and very often a connection to a stair or steps leading up to the garden beyond.
Garden Light wells
The Garden Lightwell is the most common and the design issues concern its size, how it connects to the garden, the presence of any below ground storage off it or lack thereof, the nature of the bridge or platform over it at the next level up, and the design and detail of the glazed doors giving onto it. As architects designing basements in London and particularly basement extensions in Fulham and in Kensington and Chelsea we have experience of many configurations of the garden lightwell. We have found that a series of steps leading up to the garden are a particularly successful design in that they also extend the view of anyone sitting in the basement looking across the lightwell.
Internal Light wells
Several of our basement extensions in Fulham have featured internal light wells located midway along the footprint of the basement. This has the advantage of bringing daylight and views of the sky into the heart of the basement. They can also provide small spaces into which access can be gained and doors opened onto.
Front Light Wells
Typically, a basement extension will also have a front lightwell. This will be covered with a structural steel mesh and provides a small space into which access can be gained and again doors opened onto. Several of our basement extensions in Fulham and also basement extensions in Chelsea have incorporated a structural glass platform rather than a lightwell. This reduces the visual impact of the basement externally and also allows the inhabitable space in the basement room below to extend further towards the street.
Internal Glass Platforms
A further device to bring light into the basement is by using structural glass platforms set into the floor. These panels rely on borrowed light but can be useful when used as part of a menu of various other ways to bring daylight into the basement extension.
A Feature stair linking the basement extension to the floor above can be very useful in bringing light into the basement. Several of our basement projects have used this device very successfully, particularly when a large format roof light is set over the top of the stair. This then provides a direct flood of light into the basement and also natural ventilation out and good views of the sky.
Top 5 Tips for Basement Design – Come back soon for Tip Two.