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Jun202016

Bargain Basement? Billionaires drill down in the hunt for more space

Yes skyscrapers continue to rise ever higher across the world. But over the past couple of decades digging down has become increasingly de rigueur among the world’s elite. And we’re not just talking make-shift man-caves or a handy wine cellar.

As house prices continue to rise exponentially, the world’s wealthiest have looked to the earth as opposed to the sky when wishing to expand their empire, often to dizzying effects. Where real estate is at a premium, think Central London or Manhattan, often the richest among us would rather push the engineering limitations of what lies beneath, rather than uprooting, in order to maximise space. Yet as some moan about the perpetual drone of drilling that is tainting the most desirable addresses around the world, we’ve decided to dig into the subterranean world and offer our rundown of some of the most spectacular billionaire basements.

Comedian Ruby Wax has famously joked of her West London neighbours that they house vineyards in their basements. And where this may be a stretch, there are certainly houses with imaginative owners. This Hamptons ‘trophy basement’, for example, stretches a huge 10,000 sq. feet beneath its owner’s original footprint. The basement houses everything from a skateboarding half pipe (pictured) to a squash court. You can have it all for a cool US $43.5 million. Bowling alleys, cinema rooms and even nightclubs have all been built into the specifications of these underground ventures.

trophy basement

Figure 1 Source: http://hauteliving.com/2012/03/haute-design-the-%E2%80%9Ctrophy-basement%E2%80%9D-phenomenon/264989/

London has been at the epicentre of the basement craze, thanks to limited space and a proliferation of some of the richest people in the world. Artist Damien Hirst has recently revealed his own ‘renovation’ plans for his £40 million Regent’s Park home. The plans, below, drawn up by architect firm Purcell, add a sauna and steam room to the already installed basement pool. Despite stiff opposition to the plans from local residents, the artist managed to secure a deal, meaning construction is underway.

Damien Hirst Basement

Figure 2 Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3426879/Mega-basement-isn-t-Damien-Hirst-wants-25-metre-underground-swimming-pool-too.html

And pools, such as the below in North London’s notoriously decadent Bishop’s Avenue, are becoming more and more commonplace in the British capital. Firms specialising in their installation are thriving, dealing with the unique complications of such an undertaking, particularly in London’s clay-heavy foundations.

Bishop's Avenue pool

Figure 3 Source: https://www.onthemarket.com/content/add-a-touch-of-luxury-at-home-onthemarket-com-reveals-5-amazing-basements/

And what about the future of these billionaire basements? With continuing upheaval in streets, local councils have in recent months looked to quell the surge of ‘mega-basements’. Westminster Council, for example, has sought to introduce legislation that would limit basements to a single storey, and their size to a maximum of 50% of the total site area. 

But if the future looks a little more sober, there’s no doubt there are still some seriously audacious basements on the market. So it seems you can forget Downton Abbey. What goes on downstairs in these mansions is certainly more interesting than what’s happening upstairs.  

Article written by Daniel Scott, Construction, Infrastructure & Property Recruiter at Cobalt Recruitment.

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 20th 2016 and is filed under Construction & Engineering. You can subscribe to our RSS 2.0 news feed here.

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