Shape Architecture has had seven Basements and House extension projects on site in Fulham and Barnes this year and nearly all are now finished or approaching completion. It is worthwhile to take an overview of these projects and see what aspects have been most successful and where improvements can be made.
Space, light and transparency:
In the design of large scale residential projects the issues around forming additional and enlarged space and bringing light into these spaces are critical. Also important is the visual and physical connection between garden and interior. Where these concerns are brought together in a single architectural form then the most successful designs are created. In a number of these projects we have sited the stair either in its own glass construction or else below large format rooflights to ensure that light and sunlight are brought down into the basement. This also affords good views from the basement of the sky above and then creates a feeling of openness. At Hurlingham Road the stair is designed as a feature in its form and sits in a glass box that falls into the rear lightwell. Here all issues of light, space and transparency are very well resolved and views from the interior to the garden beyond are clear feature of this arrangement. Elsewhere at one of building projects in Ellerby Street we have set the stair as an additional external stair framed in glass that leads from a glazed bridge to the basement lightwell and the bridge connects the garden to the kitchen dining space.
To enhance the connection further the glazed doors fold right back to reveal a glass balustrade and a total sense of openness. At another basement conversion in Ellerby Street the feature stair is set back in the heart of the floor plan below a large rooflight. This then brings light down into the heart of the basement. It also links very well with additional accommodation whereby the study is adjacent and can look across the stair void towards the garden.
The Construction of a Basement:
As architects working in London on wide variety of basement projects the construction detailing and the integration with the structure are extremely important. Our experience of these projects has been with the same structural engineer and this has made for an efficient and rigorous process. Likewise the knowledge of how to successfully detail these constructions is improved by repeating the same work on site.
Communicating the Design:
A common factor in the design process has been the value of communicating the design ideas using 3D computer visualization and this has enabled all clients to having a clear understanding of the various design alternatives and can enable informed decisions to be made that can also take into consideration the impact of light into the space that the computer model conveys.