Kensington Basement Extension
Shape Architecture gained planning permission for the new basement in Adam and Eve Mews in October 2013. The client’s brief asked for a new basement extension below the whole building footprint and the opening up of the ground floor to include the conversion of the integral garage into a part of the living accommodation. The mews location also presented certain challenges in both the design and construction of a basement. As Kensington architects we are used to designing in Mews locations and the design challenges this represents. We are also experienced in addressing the construction issuers such as site set up and vehicle delivery patterns.
Kensington Architects: The Design Challenge
This basement extension in Kensington, given the mews location, presented the design challenge of how to bring light into the basement. There is an existing lightwell at the rear of the property which could be developed as a source of light. As with many projects it is the site and planning constraints that help form a creative solution. The lightwell is simply extended down as a double height space and this fills the rear and mid parts of the basement extension with light and provides a focal point.. Enclosed in glass at basement level – it can be walked into via several glass doors. A feature bookcase sits at the rear wall and fills the double height space from top to bottom and is a striking feature of the project, immediately visible on entry. In respect of bringing light into the ‘street side’ of the basement, a structural glass panel is proposed which runs the full width of the house and extends 1.2 metres into the floor plate. This provides a ‘bar’ of natural light into the basement space to dramatic effect. It also provides interest at ground floor level. The glass is treated such that its starts semi-opaque at one end and becomes clear at the other end. This means that when one opens the front door at ground floor it is not a clear glass panel but sand blasted to give a sense of stability.
Basement Conversion in Kensington: Opening up the Space
The planning permission also allowed the conversion of the integral garage into living accommodation. This much enlarged the ground floor living space and combined with the integration of basement and ground floor creates an impressively large and light space on entry and has added much needed floor space to the ground floor. As London Architects we are used to addressing design issues where a need for space and light filled interiors is a key requirement of the brief.
Basement Conversion in Kensington: Natural Light
It is clear from the design issues described above that in the design of basement extensions to Mews properties the use of natural light is an important factor in the success of a basement extension. Its interest lies in the fact that in maximizing the potential of natural light key features of the interior space are developed that define the new works as being all to do with light, space and transparency. This approach is common to many of our basement extensions in Kensington.
5 Tips for Kensington Basement Conversions in Mews Locations
One. Use of Natural Light. The use of natural light is of key importance and consideration should be given to the exploitation of existing features such a lightwells and the provision of a diverse range of light sources both in location type and scale and these can include the use of structural glass floor panels and stair voids.
Two. Internal Volume. Given that the floor plan is often compact the exploration of volume in respect of opening up the existing ground floor to the basement below is always worth exploring and this can again include the use of lightwells and stair voids. The basement floor to ceiling height is also important in ensuring a sense of volume.
Three. Design Features. As the above two items are explored it should become apparent that certain design solutions can be considered as key design features. Our London basement conversions have explored this to good effect. This project at Adam and Eve Mews has utilized an existing lightwell to extend into the basement ands then installed a double height ‘book shelf’ on the rear wall.
Four. Energy Upgrade. Basement extensions in Kensington that also affect other floor levels, particularly the ground floor above can take this opportunity to upgrade the thermal performance of the existing fabric such as solid brick walls. Here the walls can be lined with thermal insulation bonded top plasterboard to reduce heat loss through the walls and also improve sound insulation.
Five. Use of integral garages. Our Kensington basement extension at Adam and Eve Mews obtained planning permission to convert the existing integral garage into living accommodation. This has had the effect of markedly increasing the size of the ground floor interior and sense of space.