Janine Stone gives some intriguing insight into a unique and demanding design challenge…
…Our client needed somewhere to keep his toys. We suggested a box. In the basement.
The basement in question is a subterranean space excavated from a hillside (the hill on which the house stands). The box is a vast, concrete and steel garage. And the toys? Well the toys, as you’ve probably guessed by now, are his collection of classic cars, ranging from an ancient Austin 7 to a GT-40 muscle car.
To call him a petrol-head would be something of an understatement. Cars are his all-consuming, undying passion. Unfortunately, his local planning authority didn’t share this passion. The client wanted additional buildings that would accommodate his collection of cars (and provide some additional living space). The planners didn’t agree and invoked greenbelt-planning restrictions.
These restrictions meant it couldn’t be built upwards. They meant it couldn’t build outwards. In fact, it couldn’t be built in any direction, with one exception. Downwards. And that, in an inspired flash of lateral thinking, is exactly what we proposed. (Though whether downwards could be described as lateral is, of course, another matter.)
We devised a series of clever underground terraces and rooms that utilised the natural slope of the grounds. In other words, we created a huge, below ground space. Or, as he likes to call it, the basement.
And what a basement. The below ground living rooms, cut into the side of the slope, have sweeping views and, being south of the house, are filled with natural light. More importantly, the tiered garaging area can accommodate all twelve cars in an extraordinary collection.
The crowning glory, though, is the parking lift. Like a device from a science fiction film, this incredible system quietly lowers, and then places each car into its individual space. And, of course, automatically retrieves them too.
Amazingly, the garage and the other rooms remain almost entirely invisible as their roofs are buried into the natural lie of the land and nestle within the landscaped gardens. Even the planners were relaxed about this approach. They accepted that the designs had little or no detrimental impact on the greenbelt. And if the planners were relaxed, then he was overjoyed.
And thanks to an inspired solution the client can now play with whichever toy he wants, whenever he wants – and they’re all tided away by the time his wife comes home …