Sunday, September 16, 2012

What's With the Increasing Trend in London to Build Homes Underground?

Last week I saw an episode of Grand Designs where a wealthy couple bought a rather large basement in a rather posh part of London and dug down many metres to extend their home in a world where the m2 of land is at its most expensive. It seems, however, that a wealthy Canadian called David Graham has gone one step (or 4 storeys!) further and has submitted plans to triple the size of his mansion by digging down a whopping 50ft. He wants to create a four-storey, 15 bedroom basement mansion complete with its own private swimming pool, spa, ballroom and gymnasium.

The former Magistrates' court was purchased by Mr Graham in 2000. However, after failing to find a more substantial home in the Knightsbridge area of London, David Graham, a multi-millionnaire after selling his cable tv company, decided to follow recent trends and extend his home towards the earth's crust.

Many residents have complained about these plans to extend Mr Graham's home downwards. However, the question is whether this new kind of construction does actually cause any social or economic problems to the public. In the short-term of course residents will have to endure the annoyance of having building works going on at their doorstep, which in this case could last up to 4 years. Yet, the work is underground so are these complaints just made by jealous people who wished they had thought of the same idea? Land in the Knightsbridge area is extremely expensive so it makes sense to make the best of what you have.

What would residents prefer, a monstrosity of a building that is visible to the public, or a discrete underground mansion that most people are unaware even exists? I think this is an ingenious idea and in many years to come it will probably be the norm for people in crowded cities and towns to start extending their homes further underground.

In saying that, however, could you actually live in a bunker? Is land so precious to us that we have to resort to living like foxes where any sign of daylight is four storeys above us? Personally, I take great enjoyment in appreciating our natural surroundings and no amount of extra space could compete with living in a home where light, sky, trees, etc are in abundance. As seen on the recent Grand Designs programme, the basement mansion looked amazing but it still felt like a basement and no amount of artificial lighting could change that.

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